Review by Camden Ferrell
Taylor Swift has remained a staple of pop culture and achieved unprecedented musical success throughout her career. Miss Americana is a Netflix documentary directed by Lana Wilson that takes a look at Swift’s career and her abilities as a songwriter. Thanks to some great execution, this is a thoroughly engaging documentary that will be enjoyable for all audiences, Swift fans or not.
Ever since she released her debut album in 2006, Taylor Swift has been an unstoppable force in the music industry. She’s endured a lot of personal and creative change since then, and it really gives the documentary a lot to explore. She has had a prolific career with no shortage of drama or struggles, and that gives the film a lot of material to work with without making the film feel repetitive.
Wilson’s direction and execution are extremely commendable. She knows how to balance talking head interviews with more candid moments and archive footage, and it gives the film a fast-paced and energetic feeling. She avoids lethargy in the film by crafting a gripping narrative about Swift’s career as a singer and songwriter.
Swift herself is a highly charismatic subject. She is charming and sweet and has a very pleasant screen presence. The film tackles a wide spectrum of emotions that Swift juggles very well. Her moments of joy feel joyful, and her moments of pain feel painful. It’s a simple observation, but it’s one that makes all the difference. Swift’s larger than life success is boiled down to the main elements of being human, and it’s highly relatable thanks to Swift’s performance.
Clearly, it wouldn’t be a Taylor Swift documentary without the music, and this movie is full of it. It features a wide array of songs in different stages of recording, and it really puts her growth as an artist in perspective. We see her performing country songs by herself as a teenager, and we also get to see her newer contemporary albums and all of its moving parts. It creates a clear narrative that justifies her creative decisions, and it’s really interesting to get a in depth look at the creation of some of her hit songs.
The movie also does a great job with eliciting an emotional response out of its audience. Her triumph and joy transcend the screen, but the same can be said for her low points as well. We see her feuds with other celebrities and with political leaders as well. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, but it’s one that is highly empathetic, and it gives the film a resonant and human core. We are not watching the story of superstar Taylor Swift; we are watching the story of a fellow human and artist Taylor Swift.
Despite its occasional serious moments, we are reminded of Swift’s enduring spirit in a way that is infectiously optimistic. She reminds us of what it means to persevere, hope, and trust in one’s self. The film’s message is an uplifting one that will speak to everyone in a special way. Hopefully, this will inspire the next generation of songwriters and artists.
Miss Americana is a captivating glance at one small town girl’s rise to stardom and her lasting legacy. Taylor Swift is an electric and charming subject that has received as great a documentary as she deserves. Even if her music is not your style, this documentary is still worth checking out.
Miss Americana is streaming on Netflix.