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Satisfied Review: Creating Art Amidst Challenges

An outlet of someone on the stage faces the audience with a light in front of them in the dark in a still from the 2024 film Satisfied

Satisfied retells Renée Elise Goldsberry’s journey of joining Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton and the difficulty of navigating an ordinary life amidst success.

Directors: Chris Bolan & Melissa Haizlip
Genre: Documentary
Run Time: 84′
Tribeca Premiere: June 15-16, 2024
US Release Date: TBA
UK Release Date: TBA

In the documentary Satisfied, we see Renée Elise Goldsberry (Waves), who plays Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton, grapple with fertility and being present for her family while the Broadway show becomes a critical hit. Through vlogs recorded by the actress herself, with never-before-seen footage of the making of Hamilton, Satisfied seeks to give audiences an understanding of what it takes to break into the industry, maintain some kind of financial and emotional stability, and how to pick yourself up even when it feels impossible.

As somebody who writes about the arts as a way to express his opinion, it is easy to forget that the people behind the works we publish articles about are human, too. Thanks to the internet, everyone can say whatever they want with little regard for the feelings they might hurt in the process. That doesn’t mean we can’t critique others’ work, but it does mean that if we are going to do so, we should at least do it with some level of respect. I bring this up because, while Satisfied does not dispute the current state of criticism, it does present us with the cruel reality of show business. It ain’t all glamor. More often than not, it is a daily struggle.

Like with most documentaries, Satisfied almost feels like a “greatest hits” exploration of a successful artist, showing us the highs and lows of somebody’s career. In that sense, the film’s structure is quite formulaic and leaves very little for the viewer to be surprised in any given way. Where the movie succeeds, though, lies with Goldsberry. Not only is she our main subject; she’s our narrator too. The actress has a naturally reassuring voice that makes you feel at ease. When she recalls her life experiences, there is a tenderness to how she explains things that captivates you.

Two adults and two children smile at the camera for a selfie in a still from the 2024 film Satisfied
Satisfied (Stick Figure Productions / 2024 Tribeca Film Festival)

If we’re talking just entertainment value, which people can have a hard time finding in documentaries, it helps that Goldsberry’s success story is relatable and endearing. Seeing her have the big breakthrough she clamored for as a child thanks to Hamilton is rewarding, especially as she retells living through miscarriage. Renée is a woman who understands pain, whether it is a personal or professional ache. Anyone would’ve given up after such a tragedy or rejections for gigs. Yet Goldsberry kept moving forward, trying to stay positive.

As the film cuts back and forth between her rehearsal sessions and the moments she is missing out on with her children due to the job, it drives home the point of the sacrifices made by these talented individuals. Sacrifices for their personal growth and to entertain the masses. We get to enjoy their works despite the toll that can take on an artist, and because we’re so absorbed in our opinions, more often than not, we don’t appreciate them.

Satisfied is a straightforward documentary. It isn’t trying to sway you in any direction; it simply takes you behind the curtain of how art is created amidst challenges. Can it feel like it is patting itself on the back? Yeah, but I don’t see this as an issue. Sometimes, you have to be proud of your achievements and brag about them a little to the world.

Satisfied premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 15-16, 2024. Read our list of 15 films to watch at the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival!

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