[FILM: Review] Katy Perry: Part Of Me
The reason Katy Perry: Part Of Me is so effective is that, while pop singer Perry is its ostensible subject, it’s not really about her at all – it’s about you. It’s about you, the gawky young dreamer with a talent your family and friends don’t yet understand. It’s about you, who are so pretty and don’t even realise it. It’s about you, who will one day show them all. It’s about you, a firework just waiting to explode. Well, okay, maybe that’s not you specifically, but it’s certainly a large chunk of Perry’s young fanbase, and the target demographic for this very strange film. Part Of Me is part-3D concert film and part-documentary, but mostly, it’s an exercise in empowerment. It’s an hour-and-a-half-long affirmation that if you follow your dreams, you too can burn as brightly as Katy Perry.
The film documents the planning and execution of the California Dreams arena tour, cutting between performance footage, talking heads-style interviews with Perry’s nearest and dearest, and various backstage interactions, which are presented as spontaneous and candid, so I guess we’ll just have to take the filmmakers’ word for it. The tour in question was an all-out audio and visual assault of candy colours and bright lights – believe me, I witnessed it first-hand – and the film takes much the same approach. Information comes at you so rapidly and in so many different forms – grainy webcam videos, splashy hi-def concert footage, old Polaroid images – that the senses quickly overload. For all the time she spends on screen, Perry herself proves to be a bit of an enigma. I feel I know even less about her now than I did going in.
Russell Brand makes a few brief appearances, skulking in and out of the background of certain shots, and his presence – or absence – is one of the more interesting parts of the film. The comedian’s marriage to Perry was falling apart during the production, and this seems like a variable nobody actually counted on. While the details of the break-up are elided over, the film still uses it as a sort of narrative thread. We see Perry breaking down in tears before a South American concert, then putting on her brightest smile and performing anyway. Whether this is real or contrived, it’s hard to tell, but it’s one of few moments when reality seemingly punctures the film’s bright bubble of empowerment.