Okay, I may be en retard to the party with this review, but unfortunately, the tardiness was beyond my control and not a manifestation of my laziness. Katy Perry’s new 3D documentary film Part of Me only reached the remote and distant shores of Co. Clare yesterday, July 13 – a whopping 8 days after the flick went on general release in the rest of Ireland. To add insult to injury, the late arrival was also deprived of the ubiquitous three-dimensional aspect which was promoted so heavily as a key feature of the film. However, a little dismayed with the fact that I wasn’t going to get virtually sprayed with cotton candy by Katy Perry, I vowed to leave my preconceptions and disappointments at the cinema door and enjoy the lavish cinematic extravaganza promised by the film’s trailers.
There’s no denying it – this is an easy movie to have preconceptions about. It is a concert movie, which immediately stirs up images of Justin Bieber or Hannah Montana related self-promotion, indulgence and appreciation. It’s a movie which will thrill Perry fans, with her career trajectory punctuated by impressive statistics, with the most memorable being Katy’s record for being the only artist in history, bar Michael Jackson, to achieve 5 number 1 singles from one album. The movie is dedicated to Katy’s fans, and undoubtedly, her “KatyCats” will view her arrival as Messianic, with inspiring and perhaps generic lines such as “this is my childhood dream come true” and “be yourself, everyone else is taken” reminding everyone that she’s just a small town girl who hit the big time. How wonderful?! However, while critics will be weary of Perry-brand promotion, it’s hard not to warm to the singer’s honesty and hardworking nature.
It’s most likely that the “part of me” on offer to viewers has been managed by a team behind the star, but with inclusions of touching family moments with her grandmother, to the moment her marriage to Russell Brand breaks down, the film is an honest depiction of Perry’s life. Well, as honest as you can be in Hollywood. Russell makes a brief appearance in the documentary and from watching it, we’re given the impression that his lack of appearance was one of the reasons her marriage broke down. When she has days off from her rigorous tour schedule, Perry flies from Europe to America to be with her husband for a few days, but he is rarely present or seen to make an effort to fly to her. If we’re basing it on the movie, the “irreconcilable differences” which caused their split came from Russell’s lack of commitment and Katy’s reluctance to settle down and start a family.
Indeed, Perry says that she isn’t ready to have a baby because she is still a baby herself. When one child asks her if she’s really 27, Katy ensures him that she is, but one of the most heart-warming aspects of the documentary is the child-like disposition of its star. From her strict Christian upbringing in Santa Barbara, to her failed earlier attempts at stardom from the age of 15, Part of Me embodies what it means to believe in your childhood dream. It may appear clichéd, but Perry lends it credibility. She’s incredibly grateful for what she has, and what else could she be living; only a dream come true? Cliché or otherwise. From the age of 15 to her more recent years, the singer has suffered rejection, sought rebellion and found success. Behind the blue wig and cotton candy California Gurl lays a staunchly ambitious young woman who has become a canny marketer and knows exactly how to achieve her goals.
She wanted to become a star and she became one of the world’s biggest popstars, but even Katy admits that her success has come at a price. In the documentary, she confesses that she thought she’d never have to choose between a career and a relationship, but found that her belief was only a fairy-tale. One of the most touching and powerful moments in Part of Me comes when Perry has an emotional breakdown just before she goes on stage in Sao Paulo, Brazil, after she finally realises her marriage has ended. As she lies in the make-up chair, Katy is inconsolable and sobs hysterically. Even after deciding the show must go on, she is doubled over in floods of tears, as she makes her way to the stage. Perry’s most insightful scene into her life arises as she waits in the trap box to ascend onto the stage – a young woman whose marriage has collapsed, about to face her biggest audience yet. As the music begins to play, Katy wipes away the tears, the propellers on her boobs start to rotate and she puts on a dazzlingly bright smile to wow the audience, who are completely unaware of her personal torment. She becomes Katy Perry, the superstar.
And she is a superstar – at the age of 27, she has set records which the Beatles or Elvis failed to achieve and the film offers an honest depiction of the star’s life – humanising one of the world’s most famous celebrities. Her overnight success took nearly 10 years to achieve and I came away from the cinema feeling that Katy Perry deserves every minute of the recognition and praise she has worked so hard for.