For Britney Spears, the princess of pop music and the queen of tabloids, a biopic is just as inevitable as clouds on a rainy day.
In Lifetime’s version of her life’s events, Britney Ever After, there was a ton of rain and barely any sunshine as the biopic focused mainly on the rough patches that occurred at the peak of her career, with many of her accomplishments disregarded.
It goes without say that Spears is a cultural icon. Songs like “I’m a Slave 4 U,” “Oops!… I Did It Again,” “Toxic” and “Womanizer,” as well as the albums that those songs come from, assisted in having her career span for almost 20 years.
With a Grammy, multiple Video Music Awards and diamond album certifications from the RIAA, Spears’ legacy is only shadowed by one thing—her tumultuous personal life.
The biopic does a good job of reminding us of key events like her breakup with Justin Timberlake, her quickly annulled marriage to childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander, her marriage to backup dancer, Kevin Federline, the time she shaved her head and attacked paparazzi, as well as her highly publicized comeback at the 2008 Video Music Awards.
What the movie does not succeed in is portraying these events with accuracy or at least in a way that is aesthetically pleasing for the viewers. For one, none of Spears’ music was featured in the movie, reminding viewers of Lifetime’s unauthorized Aaliyah biopic which was similarly panned by fans and critics, but not of the work Spears actually put in to achieve her status.
Key details that are important to fans of the singer were also disregarded. For example, the iconic denim dress that Spears once wore was changed to a pantsuit. Also, the hot pink wig that she was known to wear in 2007 was changed to purple instead.
Natasha Bassett, the actress who plays Spears, is originally from Australia which may explain why her southern accent became almost its own entity within the movie. She turned Spears into a live caricature that was a little too ditsy and too extroverted, much less enigmatic than the star actually is.
The writers relied a lot on speculation to propel the storyline and in order to craft its scenes, the directors and producers must have spent a lot of time studying magazine spreads and TMZ footage.
Unfortunately, it ended up becoming more about the singer’s battle with her mental health, her conservatorship and the paparazzi, a narrative that Spears has been trying to leave in the past for almost as long ago as the time she returned to the top of the charts back in 2008 with her comeback album, Circus.Only a few artists out there have been relevant long enough to be able to enter in and out of the spotlight when they please.
However, Spears’ comebacks became part of the movie’s narrative about 10 minutes before the movie ended, one of the only times in the movie that a cohesive sequence of events was showcased.
The movie bounced back and forth between important years of Spears’ life and career like 2001, 2004, 2007, 2008, ending in 2013 when she announced her Las Vegas residency which continues until 2017.
The residency was noted for putting residencies back on the map, inviting artists like Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez to follow suit. For anyone watching the film who is unfamiliar with Spears’ issues, this was a major flaw in the screenwriting.
Compared to the silver-screen biopics of artists with similar cultural standing like Selena Gomez, Notorious B.I.G. and N.W.A., this film was a disaster. One day, justice will come for Spears like it will come for artists such as Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, whose small-screen biopics were also cinematic disasters.
In contrast, the production and the release of VH1’s biopic of ‘90s girl group TLC was universally praised. Perhaps its success was due to Chilli and T-Boz’s involvement in the project.
Spears, who many claim to be an industry puppet, was portrayed in the movie as incapable of making her own decisions.The fact that a movie was done without her authorization is a testament to the fact that third parties are quick to portray events the way that suits them best.