We’re only about a month and a half in, but so far 2013 has been The Year of Beyonce. The Presidential Inauguration. The Super Bowl Halftime Show. Oprah’s Next Chapter. And perhaps the most highly anticipated Bey-related event of 2013 thus far (because we’re sure there’ll be more): her new HBO documentary Life is But A Dream (which she not only starred in, but also directed. And produced. And narrated. And… you get the picture).
The film promised to delve into the behind-the-scenes world of Mrs. Carter and reveal emotional and intimate details of the notoriously private pop star’s personal life. But did it deliver? The reviews are in and it seems that the critics… can’t agree on that. Head below for a roundup of the mixed bag reactions to Queen B’s documentary.
:: The New York Times calls Life is But A Dream “as contrived as ‘Madonna: Truth or Dare,’ but probably for good reason it is neither daring nor entirely truthful. It’s an infomercial, not just about Beyoncé’s talent onstage but her authenticity behind the scenes. She is a people-pleasing diva and she wants to keep it that way.” The paper concluded that “this documentary doesn’t really convey what life as a celebrity is like, but it does say a lot about how this celebrity would like to be seen.”
:: The A.V. Club also found the doc reminiscent of Truth or Dare, however questioned whether the former was as honest as the latter. They proclaim that the film is not for the “casual fan … who finds Queen Bey attractive and entertaining and all,” but caters more to “the true beylievers, for only Beyoncé’s biggest fans could look beyond the amount of superficiality and narcissism in the doc.”
:: In probably the most succinct review of the movie, Indiewire calls LIBAD “the film equivalent of a selfie.” The site note that even though she keeps “an iron grip on her own image” throughout the documentary, Beyonce is still “immensely watchable and fabulous.”
:: Billboard saidthe film was “a pleasant surprise of a watch” and noted that the film made Beyonce seem more “real.” “The well-oiled, media-trained, hit-making machine has a heart. And it’s huge.”
:: Pitchfork lamented the lack of new insight into Bey’s personal life, however praised her for appearing “convincingly genuine and without a single drop of jaded, cynical, or ironic blood.” They wonder if maybe the entire point of the documentary was to show that “she’s simply everything we want her to be.”
:: MTV is among those that think that the documentary may have been “overly polished” and lacking in new insights.
:: The Hollywood Reporter didn’t have many favorable things to say, calling the doc “repetitious and bland” and noting that among everything else in the film, her “music becomes almost an afterthought.”
:: The Washington Post also thought the movie included nothing we didn’t already know about Queen B, calling it “a hallucinatory advertisement for success” and lamenting its lack of linear narrative.
:: Unlike most other reviews, People thought “the film was full of new and exciting moments.”
:: Entertainment Weekly essentially said it’s up to the audience to decide how they view the doc: as “a verité video-quilt stitched from snippets of the private life of America’s current First Performer” or “just a televised press release.” The truth, they conclude, “is probably somewhere in between.”
:: And lastly, Idolator’s very own Erika Brooks Adickman had this to say: “I could watch it once a day for the rest of the year. And I probably will.”