“Life is But a Dream,” is Beyoncé Knowles’ sometimes revealing but somewhat disjointed self-produced and self-directed documentary that premiered Saturday on HBO. This film is Beyoncé’s attempt to show us that she’s just like the rest of us. During the documentary which runs just a little under 2 hours in length, we get to see ‘happy Beyoncé’, ‘sad Beyoncé’, ‘pensive Beyoncé’,’ authoritative Beyoncé’ and of course, ‘diva Beyoncé’ which is the side of her that the world gets to see most often when she performs on stage.
A great deal of the documentary’s footage was shot on Knowles personal laptop, which she uses, at times as a video diary. The films start off promising with Beyoncé speaking openly and frankly about the infamous parting of ways between herself and her then manager father, Matthew Knowles. But just as quickly as the audience is drawn in and we begin to think that we are finally going to see an intimate side of Beyoncé that we don’t often get to do; the film veers off track. The editing (Knowles also served as the film’s editor) leaves much to be desired. 90% of the film is filled with Beyoncé either preparing to perform on stage or actually performing on stage. In other words, “Life Is But a Dream” is close to 2 hours of the Beyoncé that we already know and love but are quite frankly getting a little tired of. The never-ending performance preparation footage gets a little confusing as it is never quite clear which show or performance she is preparing for. This is where the film would have benefited from the use of title cards or just better editing. I found myself getting a little bored several times throughout and really hoped that we would get to see less of her performances and get more insight into the fiercely private songstress’ personal life.
For Jay-Z fans, I’m sorry to say that much of the rapper’s screen time in this film consists of him standing off in the wings beaming and being super supportive of his beautiful and talented wife and who can blame the man-she’s dazzling. But you also get some revealing glimpses into the pair’s relationship. Most notably a scene where Beyoncé delivers a touching toast to the rapper in front of his family and friends at his 2006 birthday bash. Scenes like this show us that the power couple is very much in love and are both very supportive of each other…but didn’t we already know this?
One of the most anticipated scenes in the film is the unveiling of 13-month old Blue Ivy, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s most recent collaboration. This time we get to see her entire face and in case you are curious (and I know you are); looks wise, the little girl is a perfect balance of both her mother and father. What I found to be a little disconcerting are the scenes where Beyoncé is preparing for and orchestrating the announcement of her pregnancy. She does this like she would any of her stage performances. There is even a scene in the delivery room before the birth where the mother-to is seen in hair rollers and full make up!
Near the end of the documentary, Beyoncé makes an insightful observation about her view on life. “Life is like a puzzle,” she says, “as we grow, we take the next step and the dots get connected and we eventually become what we are supposed to be.” People are complicated and nobody is just one thing. “Life is But a Dream” is Beyoncé’s attempt to show the public this about herself. However, all the film succeeds in doing is reinforcing the point that above all else Beyoncé Knowles is a performer-for better or for worse.