We still have another one popstar documentary to see this year: “Justin Bieber: Our World”. The past couple of years have seen a steady stream of these films presenting an inside look into the lives of our favorite stars. Since the start of 2020, we’ve had Taylor Swift’s “Miss Americana” (January 2020), “Blackpink: Light Up the Sky” (October 2020), “Shawn Mendes: In Wonder” (November 2020), “Ariana Grande: Excuse Me, I Love You” (December 2020) and “Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry” (February 2021).
Coming to us now in October 2021, Bieber’s film focuses on the month of preparation leading up to his New Year’s Eve concert in December 2020. Set in Beverly Hills, California, the concert brought together a live audience of 240 watching from the balconies of the Beverly Hilton Hotel. But the primary audience would be online, as Bieber has partnered with T-Mobile to livestream the concert worldwide for just $25 (or free for T-Mobile customers).
The majority of the 94-minute documentary is made up of concert footage, which is a little underwhelming for those expecting the more intimate perspective that fueled “Miss Americana” and “The World’s A Little Blurred.” Bieber has already given audiences a deeper look through his YouTube docuseries, “Justin Bieber: Seasons” (January 2020), but regardless, the relatively impersonal nature of this film is likely to put most viewers off. . Watching a recording of a concert can be a bit boring.
Director Michael D. Ratner (“Justin Bieber: Seasons”) attempts to weave behind-the-scenes footage throughout the film to keep things interesting, but you have to sit through the first 7 minutes of concert footage to access it. (And it was correct long enough for my movie buddy to fall sound asleep.) Towards the end of the film, the concert bits become much more interesting, because by then the viewer knows all the background work that has gone into the performance and is emotionally invested in the success of the show. But until the second half, the first 30 minutes are a brake.
For the devoted Bieber fan who’s willing to stick with it, “Justin Bieber: Our World” is a fun time. It’s her first gig since 2017, which is pretty significant. Everyone involved is thrilled to be back on stage, especially in 2020 when most artists were out of work. And the production of the concert is quite impressive: they have fireworks, drones and dramatic light shows, all perfectly synchronized with the music. The choreography is really fun to watch, and it’s intriguing to see everything that goes into making a concert happen — especially the stressful hiccups that occur along the way, like the lead choreographer testing positive for COVID-19, a thunderstorm pushes back construction and the overloaded livestream crashes, delaying the start time by 45 minutes.
But the real gems of the movie are the subtle nods to Bieber’s personal growth over the last 10 years of life in the spotlight. The documentary’s title itself is a nod to his 2009 debut album, “My World,” which was so successful he released “My World 2.0” the following year. The simple change from “my” to “our” indicates how Bieber has become a more conscientious person. The documentary features various key members of Bieber’s team who have worked with him throughout his career, and the perspective of Lauren Walters (his bodyguard), in particular, highlights Bieber’s growth in as a leader.
There are also quite a few heartfelt moments in the second half of the film. In the concert itself, Bieber gives a sweet shoutout to his wife, Hailey, for the song “Holy,” and the two go for a nice morning stroll on the day of the concert. There are images of the pair playing with Bieber’s siblings in a park; the emphasis on family conveys the singer’s newfound stability and maturity.
One of the concert’s final songs is “Lonely,” a heartbreaking melody that reflects Bieber’s struggles as a child growing up under the microscope of the world. The camera pans across a wide shot of the audience, with Bieber standing alone as a single, small figure. It’s a final nod to his past, and this song, along with this documentary, seems to mark the start of a new era for Justin Bieber. It gives some closure to the former Justin Bieber and ushers in the future with a note of hope and excitement.
While it’s nothing groundbreaking, fans will find ‘Justin Bieber: Our World’ to be a fun and quite interesting insight into the making of the New Year’s concert – as well as a meaningful reflection as Bieber embarks on a new chapter of his life.
Everyday Arts Contributor Pauline Kim can be reached at [email protected]