Britney Ever After makes a self-conscious effort to follow the tumultuous story of pop icon Britney Spears from Mouseketeer to sold-out performances in Las Vegas. The biopic struggles a bit in chronicling the pop star’s rise to fame, fall from grace, and eventual triumphant resurrection.
Australian actress Natasha Bassett, 23, makes a heartfelt attempt at emulating 34-year-old Britney in the two-hour film. And there are some scenes where one actually feels a connection with Britney. That said, the casting is a bit off, and the film feels untethered and aimless in some scenes. In fact, much of Britney Ever After almost feels like an MTV video: lots of stage flash, glitz and paparazzi cameras in burst mode, often glossing over subtext, much like headlines in a teen magazine.
Another problem lies with what the film skips over: Britney’s early rise to fame. This is something we want to see—how she broke into the hugely competitive music arena. Instead, the film starts after the release of her first single, skirting the struggles, sacrifices, and rejections one endures simply to be noticed.
We want to see how her mother groomed Britney to be a star at the tender age of 5. How at 7, Britney sang and performed on Louisiana’s stage festival circuit, singing at country fairs, fashion shows and beauty pageants. How the young ingénue was picked out of 40,000 children to be a Mouseketeer. How she performed Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” in a farewell to Kentwood at the age of 11. How her side-by-side Mouseketeer performances with Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake launched her initial stardom. We want to experience the heartbreak as her career took a nosedive when the Mickey Mouse show was cancelled, forcing Britney and her family back to Kentwood, into a life of poverty and bankruptcy.
We want to see Britney’s miraculous comeback. How, at 16, she leveraged her boy-toy sexual power to rise again, with the video “Hit Me Baby One More Time” (just a snippet of this video would have been enough). How at 17, she broke the record as the youngest artist to have her first single and album to debut number one. How her oversexed teen photo-shoots began to compete with her innocent public persona. These are the emotional signposts audiences would love to see and hear—but are denied in a film that resembles a pulp magazine’s rendition of her life.
The film does address the singer’s high-profile relationship with ‘N Sync singer Justin Timberlake, played by Nathan Keyes, who fans insist is a poor resemblance to the pop artist. We’re also exposed to Britney’s ill-fated marriage to dancer Kevin Federline (played by Clayton Chitty). We then segue into her custody battle over her sons, as well as her time under her dad’s conservatorship. The film even touches on Britney’s infamously bizarre head-shaving incident in front of frantic paparazzi.
Regrettably, the film doesn’t feature any of her original music, a must in any performance artist biopic.
Britney Ever After arrives on DVD on August 15th.