Whether you are a fan of Katy Perry or not, this engaging look at the nature of stardom in the twenty-first century is illuminating, along with being a terrific concert film.
In 2010, Katy Perry became the first female artist, and second after Michael Jackson, in history to have five Number 1 singles from the same album. This unprecedented success rode the wave to 37.6 million digital tracks sold in the United States and 11 million albums worldwide by the 27-year-old performer to date, an amazing achievement for an artist who seemingly only appeared in 2008. With Katy Perry: Part of Me, the singer follows in the footsteps of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never in creating a 3D event film that is part biopic, concert film and exploration of the effects of constantly being put under the spotlight by media, the inner circle and fans alike.
As Perry prepares for one of her biggest global tours in 2010, the documentary cameras capture just how much work goes into an overnight sensation. The costumes, choreography, dancers, lights and over-sized props have come to define Perry’s oeuvre, and the aim of the film is to portray the person behind the makeup. Mixing an impressive amount of archival footage with interviews, behind the scenes moments and concert footage, the film’s main thrust is around those elements that drove Perry to want to be a star. The child of evangelical preachers, and her own first album a Christian record, it sits in stark contrast with the icon she is today.
It is difficult to know just how much a part of Katy Perry we are seeing in Katy Perry: Part of Me, as it is essentially a one-sided discussion of her rise to stardom. Yet the same factors that might keep this film from being a completely open book are actually more telling than any autobiographical confession. We see a young woman shuffled around record companies until she was a hit, only to be constantly surrounded by well-wishers, close friends and public relations people. If she had a dollar for every person who claimed to be her best friend in the film, she would be able to retire without recording another song. In those more emotional moments, particularly around her very public divorce from comedian Russell Brand, all of her grieving is quite literally done in front of the cameras. Yet her generosity to the fans appears genuine, and there is not reason to no take this at face value. However, scores of kids who believe that she is alternative to mainstream may need a lesson in indie rock.
First and foremost, this is a celebration of Perry’s music and global concert off her record Teenage Dream, and the film is a visually spectacular realisation of this lengthy tour. Regardless of your levels of fandom, it is difficult to not get caught up in the sheer spectacle of it all. Hits “I Kissed A Girl”, “Hot N Cold”, “E.T.” and “Firework” have been difficult to avoid, and whether she is dancing with a giant purple cat named Kitty Purry or spraying her audience with a whipped cream cannon, Katy Perry: Part of Me has raised the bar for what modern audiences can expect from 3D concert films.
Katy Perry: Part of Me was released in Australia on 2 July 2012 from Paramount.