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Review: In concert film 'Renaissance,' Beyoncé offers glimpse into personal life during world tour

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In Beyoncé’s concert film, she describes her recent Renaissance World Tour as being run like a machine: From lighting to set design, the superstar had a hand in everything production-related to ensure her stadium tour exceeded expe
This image released by Parkwood Entertainment shows promotional art for "Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé." (Parkwood Entertainment via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In Beyoncé’s concert film, she describes her recent Renaissance World Tour as being run like a machine: From lighting to set design, the superstar had a hand in everything production-related to ensure her stadium tour exceeded expectations after four years of preparation.

As a perfectionist, Beyoncé was tirelessly determined — working almost 50 days straight — to create an epic concert experience. This becomes clear in her movie “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé,” which chronicles the massive tour in support of her seventh studio album.

Written, directed and produced by Beyoncé, “Renaissance” perfectly captures her dazzling performances for the big screen and includes some intimate behind-the-scenes footage from the normally private singer, who has rarely done interviews in the past decade.

Beyoncé released her nearly three-hour “Renaissance” movie through AMC Theaters in similar fashion as the “ Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour ” film, which opened with a record-breaking $97 million domestically for a concert film last month. But unlike Swift, whose project primarily focused on her onstage performances, Beyoncé offers more insight into her personal life.

“I'm really excited for everyone to see the process,” she says in the film.

With “Renaissance,” Beyoncé displays more of her human side like in her 2019 Netflix film “Homecoming,” which delved into the singer headlining the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. This time, she goes a step further into her story as arguably music's hardest-working performer, who attempts to juggle being a mother of three while she maintains her mental and physical fortitude during her tour.

Beyoncé expressed frustration with challenges to her lofty aspirations for her tour and felt she wasn’t being heard because she’s a Black woman. The tour ultimately grossed around $500 million, according to Billboard. She opens up about having surgery on her knee, which forced her into rehabilitation a month before her first opening show in Stockholm.

Unlike her tour, Beyoncé confesses, she's “not a machine.”

But through her aches and pains, Beyoncé — who is the most decorated Grammy artist in history — showed up and performed at a very high level. It's what she demanded of herself and others who mirrored her mentality to make each show come into fruition.

The film showcases a few big-name performers who accompanied Beyoncé onstage, including Megan Thee Stallion in Houston. During her Los Angeles stint, Kendrick Lamar was a special guest along with Diana Ross, who sang to Beyoncé for her 42nd birthday.

But out of all the celebrity appearances, the one who stole the show was Beyoncé's 11-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, who made her presence felt as a background dancer. Initially, the singer was opposed to pushing Blue into the limelight of performing in front of tens of thousands.

“She told me she was ready to perform, and I told her no,” Beyoncé says in the film.

She eventually agreed to give her daughter one chance to show her stuff. Her first performance, however, was subjected to heavy criticism on social media. But Blue Ivy used that to train harder. She gained confidence as the tour progressed and gained more standing ovations each time she hit the stage.

Blue Ivy's growth brought joy to Beyoncé and to Mathew Knowles, the proud grandfather who is shown saying, “Now, that's a Knowles!”

During a stop in Houston, Beyoncé along with her mother, Tina Knowles, drove around her old Third Ward neighborhood before they stopped by her childhood home. The return to her hometown marked another reunion between Beyoncé and all the members of the girl group Destiny's Child — which included Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson, who was once ousted from the group.

Now, it appears there's peace among them. There were no words exchanged on camera except for a collective hug, which Beyoncé called during her narration a “new birth for us. A lot of healing.”

Beyoncé along with her mother shared heartfelt moments of the singer's late uncle Johnny — a Black gay man who introduced her to house music as a child and made her a prom dress. She dedicated the “Renaissance” album to him.

The film squeezes in Beyoncé's appreciation for her devoted Beyhive fanbase who are often shown in the audience in various cities. During her shows, she expresses her gratitude for them, calling them “beautiful faces.”

Despite the presence of jams like “Alien Superstar,” “Church Girl” and “Cuff It,” not every song performed on tour made the cut for the film.

And that's just fine. “Renaissance” is more about getting a glimpse into Beyoncé's life — even for just a little bit.

“Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé,” an AMC release, is not rated. Running time: 168 minutes. Four stars out of four.

Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press

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