Documentary makers typically document closed chapters. They research, sort, analyze and condense it all into a story whose end is already fixed at the beginning. Unless the chapter is not closed, but is still being written during filming and concerns the documentary maker personally; so the documentation looks like a report, or better yet: a long-term study. Like “Britney vs. Spears” by Erin Lee Carr.
The award-winning journalist was ten when her life revolved around the late ’90s megastar. She was 18 when, despite his worldwide popularity, he was incapacitated by her own father. And she was 28 when this guardianship affair seemed too arbitrary not to comment. Erin Lee Carr and coworker Jenny Eliscu made a Netflix documentary about the court scandal, which is also remarkable because, just days after it first aired, it pretty much outdid itself.
A quivering cold box
Unlike Samantha Stark, whose Sky portrayal of “Framing Britney Spears” described the entire life of the Queen of Pop trapped in early 2021, Carr and Eliscu focus on the period after 2007, when the 25-year-olds lived in following a dirty divorce broke up. Constantly in the picture, we watch the filmmakers as they weave their way from the victim’s friend to the abuser’s lawyer with the help of various prominent contemporary witnesses. How they advance through mountains of visual and written evidence in the deep valley of a profit-driven plot. And how they anticipate what came true just hours after the premiere.
Because on Wednesday, a US court lifted Jamie Spears’ 13-year-old guardianship over his daughter, adding another chapter to the Boulevard of Vanities thriller. That alone makes this cold simmering case in the style of a presenter report worth seeing. And wildly entertaining.