Movie #60 2021: Framing Britney Spears (2021)

Here it is: the documentary that everyone’s been talking about. Whether you’re a fan of Britney Spears or not, this is something you should take note of.

Framing Britney Spears takes a candid look at Britney’s life since she burst into the spotlight as a child. Samantha Stark’s documentary first analyses the way in which the media and the general public have treated Britney over the years, often invading into her personal privacy beyond that of any other celebrity. Then, through a reel of interviews, found footage, and newspaper clippings, the documentary turns to the most controversial law ruling in the world of pop music right now: the conservatorship Britney’s father has over her which controls all of her earnings and assets. Controversial and ‘to the point’, the film covers Spears’ life from age 7 until the present day, providing the viewer with all the information they need to make up their own minds on whether or not the conservatorship is necessary and lawful.

I must begin by noting – with no disrespect to the documentary itself – that I wish I could say this is illuminating, but it’s not. What it is is simply confirmation of what we all know is true about celebrity and paparazzi culture yet choose to ignore. Again, that’s not a slight on this film itself, it’s just extremely sad to see it all laid out in front of you and come to the realisation that someone’s life has effectively been taken away from due to how they’ve been treated in the press. In that regard, the film definitely gets the job done.

To those who know nothing about Britney Spears and her downright unlawful conservatorship, I suppose this documentary would be pretty eye-opening. It almost acts as an exposé surrounding the entire true story, and I really just hope it boosts support for the entire #FreeBritney movement. Judging by the extent to which the documentary has already been talked about, it’s doing a pretty good job of that.

In terms of documentary filmmaking, I’ll admit that it’s pretty standard. The general formulaic layout of interview paired with title card paired with found footage and so on is used, but that’s exactly the right choice here. Again, to those who know next to nothing on the subject, Framing Britney Spears proves to be eye-opening. The most masterful feature of the film though is how everything is laid out in a linear fashion; it’s all broken down into digestible bite size pieces, aiming inform those who know very little about this topic. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that there’s a pretty extensive explanation of the definition of ‘conservatorship’ – it’s not exactly a word that’s often used outside of law circles.

My opinion? God, Jamie Spears is just an evil fucking cunt isn’t he? I’m sorry, but there are no other words for it. If the aim of this doc is to make people angry, it worked in my case. Of course, I did already know about the majority of the content here, but don’t go thinking it didn’t get me (and my girlfriend even more so) riled up all over again.

For me, it was really intriguing to see that the New York Times were behind this film, and I’d love to see more stuff like this from them in the future. Apparently they’ve done several documentaries in the past, but since this one is often a condemnation of the press and how they report on certain issues, it seems interesting that they’d be willing to participate. Maybe they truly are America’s least biased news source.

On the whole, this is a decent attempt at documentary filmmaking. Even if you’re barely ‘Team Britney’, I’d suggest you give it a watch anyway – to watch is to educate oneself.

Framing Britney Spears is available to stream on Sky Documentaries in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Performance: n/a
Costume & Set Design: n/a
Overall Rating: ½

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