Wednesday 11 October 2023

Movie review: Britney vs Spears, dir Erin Lee Carr (2021)

In recent times I’d vaguely been aware of Britney Spears’ legal situation, which had come to a close, but this documentary adds a lot of flesh to the bones, so to speak. Britney Spears is a talented pop singer and composer but besides unwittingly listening to her songs on 2 Day FM (my favourite radio station), I hadn’t really known much about her life until her legal situation came onto the airwaves while I was driving. 

I only listen to music in the car so this is not surprising. The documentary is quite one-sided, which is a shame, as Spears evidently had problems with relationships. I was struck by the lack of confidence her family had in her ability to make good decisions regarding who to spend time with. When her health spiralled out of control due to substance abuse this became a matter for the courts to resolve. I took onboard the faceless functionaries the court relied on in making its decisions, but most people have to subject themselves in similar ways at some point in their lives, notably when they get old and power of attorney comes into play.

The legal systems used in the two countries (US and Australia) being different is one hurdle that I had to surmount when viewing this movie. But the bias on the part of the filmmakers was unnecessary I thought. I don’t particularly care about Britney Spears one way of the other and in my life I will no doubt be at some point subject to someone else’s control, but were the conditions of the guardianship actually so onerous? I mean, Spears wasn’t living in a locked room with no food or shower facilities. A lot of people in the world have to cope with far more difficult conditions. It strikes me that Spears brought a lot of the problems on herself by capsizing so easily, though having never had to deal with such adulation – they either raise you up on a pedestal or try to bring you down – I can’t categorically say that I’d cope any better than she did.

This is a decent program however, and it shows a bit of what it’s like to live in LA, which was nice. I think it could have had more palm trees though. Perhaps someone can do a follow up show now that Spears has gotten control over her finances. I wonder if she learned anything about life during her guardianship. That’s definitely something I’d like to know.

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