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Homecoming review: Beyoncé the performer

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Beyoncé, ever the queen in her full Cleopatra get-up, saunters towards a pyramid built from football field bleachers. The pyramid seats the singer’s personal cheer squad: a full band, drumline and dancers. Calm and collected, the group prepares to rile up Coachella with an intoxicating pep-rally, choreographed to the sound of one of R&B’s most recognisable voices.

Homecoming presents Beyoncé’s 2018 Coachella set in full, with documentary-style insight into the creative process and preparation behind the performance. As the first black woman to headline Coachella, Beyoncé represents her culture on stage, curating a performance that would encapsulate the elation, power and spirit of a college homecoming celebration.

Quotes from influential black figures such as Nina Simone, Toni Morrison and more modern figures such as actress Tessa Thompson, overlay clips of rehearsal. This is a nice touch that reminds us of Beyoncé’s ultimate motivation to bring this performance to fruition.

Beyoncé’s band and dance troupe move as one, synchronised like a well-oiled machine. Every movement snap – the power and energy behind each step palpable. Although they have a machine-like togetherness, each member of the troupe injects their own personality into their performance, giving it a human touch. It was also great to see dancers of all shapes and sizes, curvier performers given equal opportunity to slimmer ones.

Beyoncé is a powerhouse, with a talent that never grows old, her incredible voice and flawless choreography prove that nothing’s changed during her time away. The performance takes us through her new songs as well as rehashing some of her greatest hits, injecting a taste of nostalgia to the performance that, of course, the crowd goes absolutely wild for.

Unfortunately, the documentary element of this film didn’t work so well for me. It felt like a professional showreel of the process, a restricted view of behind-the-scenes. We only catch glimpses of the real Beyoncé when her family come to visit while she’s rehearsing, the rest of the time it feels that Homecoming is about Beyoncé the performer, rather than Beyoncé the woman.

The voiceover accompanying the rehearsal footage sounds like it’s recorded from a telephone conversation, which as a result, leaves the commentary feeling distant and impersonal. This was a little disappointing – I wanted to see what makes this incredible woman tick.

Beyoncé’s Coachella performance is a flawless, entertaining ride from start to finish. It’s a shame the documentary doesn’t live up to that. Insight into the thought process behind the performance was informative, but a more personal approach to documenting the journey of the singer and her troupe would have made for a more compelling watch.

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