I've only been a Swiftie for a good six or seven years. I always kinda question my stance in the fandom, given that I'm not afraid to speak out against things that I disagree with and haven't been following her career since the beginning (which I guess earns some the 'real stan' badge or something on social media). But the depth of my admiration for her springing out is not something that I'm genuinely aware of until I pretty much become the resident Swiftie in close circles. With the 1989 re-recording on the way, and much of the publicity this year for the Eras Tour, Speak Now re-release, and the hubbub with the NFL, has been giving me overexposure vibes via 2015 right before she got cancelled. Going into this, and being a big lover of concert films in general, I was very much giving neutral energy just to keep my expectations at bay and mostly expecting to have a nice day out from my hellfire workplace. And, what in turn ended up happening was feeling like not only was I back seeing the concert in person earlier this summer but just completely absorbing everything that was happening on stage as if for the first time.
A journey of her albums from one to the next, takes us through as promised, seventeen years of unflinching inventive, vulnerable, and catchy entries into country, pop, and indie-folk history. With some of her past concerts ranging from getting a gold star for trying (Fearless), and hardcore 'someone edited this on shrooms' (1989) to the solid production of finding light and love in the world's white noise (Reputation), director Sam Wrench simultaneously lets us settle in for the night as if we're in the stadium seeing it in person and also drop kicks us into the imagination that is Taylor Swift. By taking the concert running time from 3 1/2 hours to 2 hours and 48 minutes (with 30 minutes of "trailers"), unfortunately someone's favorite song is gonna get cut. But with those cuts still encompasses a concert movie where every song is treated like it's only mini-production complete with costume changes and succinct set details you might never be able to pick out unless you memorize the whole concert - dancers taking golf clubs to the famous Blank Space car and smashing it to pieces or performing in the glass cages during Look What You Made Me Do, the tracks on the stage while witches cast a spell in Willow - and a performer at the highest of all her heights thus far. Wonderful cinematography and smooth editing makes it possible to accompany Taylor and her co. on stage, that is a real lavish visual treat that neither leaves you with whiplash or deprived of getting the full scope of the production design.
Though the running time is bound to have casual viewers running away - there is no behind the scenes documentary footage or intermissions - the pacing of over-the-top hits to softer vulnerable tracks offers a nice balance between the heartracing highs and slow-sway lows. At the center of the concert is a performer who invites you into her radio-ready Grammy winning life-spanning diary with an expressive presence that wields both an nostalgic appreciation for her longest-running hits and a mature artist on top of the world. Rather than showcasing a presence that feels implicity only 'on' for the cameras, she makes you feel as if she's performing just for you whether you're in the nosebleeds and first row at a massive stadium, or row five in the a movie theater. It's a real fantastical feat. Even though I've seen the concert in person and streamed it on social media, and knew what to expect, there was so much that I felt like I was just absorbing, and other times I'm pretty sure I just Winnie The Pooh-esque ascended to another plane of existence - it might've been wanting to go anywhere my Lover goes, having a marvelous time ruining everything with the last great American dynasty, or committing revenge with only a chair and some hardcore Chicago vibes like my life depends on it. By the end, it's tough to trace back exactly when a smile that breaks out on your face or the awe you've just witnessed. Maybe it's been there the whole 3 hours. Regardless, like everything Taylor touches, this is a joyful and heartfelt spectacle that proves why she's a mastermind and we're all so lucky to live in a world where we can take it all in and go along for the ride.