Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé is a showstopping visual experience that showcases all sides of Beyoncé, proving that she is the greatest working live performer we have.
Even before Beyoncé released “Renaissance” the album, back in July 2022, she has been a huge part of my life. From watching old family videos to my sister sing Destiny’s Child songs to my entire middle school talking about the celebrity drama back when Lemonade was released, Beyoncé has dominated the cultural conversation around me. My interest in Beyoncé really started to pick up around the same time as my passion for film. She was the first artist who introduced me to concert films and visual albums, and I quickly became obsessed. Flash forward around eight years and I’m sitting in a sold-out IMAX theater with hundreds of fans ready to experience Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, and it absolutely did not disappoint.
Of course, without the mesmerizing music of Beyoncé’s entire discography, there would be no concert film in the first place. It’s safe to say that at this point in her career, Beyoncé is one of the best musical artists of all time, and “Renaissance” is the perfect addition to her discography for three main reasons. First, she has never delved into a completely new genre for an entire album before. Yes, she’s had some deviations from pop with the country inspired track “Daddy Lessons,” or her rock infused song “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” but Renaissance is an Electronic album where almost every song allows her to experiment with sounds she hasn’t touched in her over two-decade career. It’s a reinvention that is extremely refreshing for fans, but that still doesn’t lose sight of what makes Beyoncé so iconic in the first place.
Next, Renaissance the album samples from a wide variety of Black artists with the intention of paying respect to the people who have inspired her, even if they have not reached the same level as fame as her. In doing this, listeners get a new album, but an entire catalogue of music which has the same energy and style as Renaissance. Lastly, and most importantly for this review, this music is absolutely perfect for a stadium show. After a few powerhouse ballads to set the mood for the show, Beyoncé takes us through almost every song from her latest album, incorporating widely original visuals both on the screen behind her and on the stage.
Throughout the film, we can see clips from a plethora of stops on her world tour that allow audiences to see the best version of the concert regardless of location, which also showcases the endless outfits she wore during her 56-show run. Where else can you see your favorite artist voguing with robots one minute and a fisheye ariel view of the entire stadium next? From the moment Beyoncé comes out on the stage till the credits roll, Renaissance is a picture-perfect spectacle.
I could easily talk about how great this show is for ages: Renaissance evolves into such a great concert film due to the intimacy we get with the vocal powerhouse. In between mini sets of songs, we get to learn about both the process of making such a groundbreaking live experience, and how Beyoncé views this era of her life. In one of her first testimonials, she mentions almost every role that someone on her crew can hold, before talking about herself, which is a beautiful choice.
In the sections where we get to see some of the behind-the-scenes action, one scene that stood out to me was when the sound went out during one of her shows. I won’t spoil which song, since this part of the film is supposed to catch audiences off guard, but during this time, we can see Beyoncé run off stage and her crew panicking. We get to see her think off the top of her head about how she can turn this error into an iconic moment, and in doing so, she decides to come back out in a different outfit to restart the song, which makes the audience go wild.
These “imperfect” moments are what makes Renaissance so special. We know what the show looks like though endless TikToks or new reports, but anytime we get a quick clip of Beyoncé’s kids dancing and watching their mom backstage or fans cursing each other out for failing the iconic “mute challenge,” it grounds the experience in a way that makes the spectacle feel incredibly human. Beyoncé mentions that she has three main personalities: the calmer maternal side, the unapologetic businesswoman, and the uncontrollable performer which most know her as. In this film, we get to see all three sides of her which makes the film feel much more personal than other concert films I’ve seen before. Getting to know more about a performer makes the performance much more enjoyable since you know how much emotional and physical labor it takes for that individual to put on a show for thousands.
The overarching message of Renaissance is that Beyoncé is finally at a point in her life where she doesn’t care what others think of her anymore. She doesn’t care if she messes up a dance move on stage, or if every performance looks identical With all her massive success, she sees this show as more of a celebration of people that have inspired her and a space for her fans to be their authentic selves. A lot of the music from Renaissance is inspired by Ballroom culture, and a lot of her backup dancers have experience in this style of dance, which has been popularized by the LGBTQ+ community.
Beyoncé’s late uncle Johnny introduced her to this music at such a young age and you can tell through the emotion in her voice when she talks about him and how much his influence has impacted her artistry. Someone on this scale has never acknowledged Ballroom before, let alone include music from that space so overtly which is such a powerful moment in history to witness. Especially during the scenes where we can see the stadium audience screaming, dancing, voguing, and sobbing their way through her entire performance.
Overall, Renaissance is not only a beautiful display of everything that makes Beyoncé such a beloved public figure, but a visual feast that any filmgoer can enjoy. From the pulse pounding beats, to the lavishly futuristic costume and production design I can firmly say that this is one of the best concert films of all time. I am extremely grateful to live in a time where I can experience such powerful artistry displayed on a large scale like this. If I had to describe this film in one way, no one can say it better than the queen herself, “tens across the board.”
Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé is out now globally in theaters.