Netflix UK film review: Taylor Swift: Miss Americana
Georgina Smith | On 01, May 2020
Director: Lana Wilson
Cast: Taylor Swift, Andrea Swift, Scott Swift
Watch Taylor Swift: Miss Americana online in the UK: Netflix UK
Taylor Swift. A name just as likely to be found in the tabloids as it is at the top of the charts or in the record books. She’s a polarising figure who inspires unwavering devotion from her countless fans, many of whom have grown up alongside her as her seven studio albums provided the soundtrack to their lives, while also inspiring just as many internet trolls and gossip magazines to write about her romantic life and several well-publicised feuds with other stars.
And yet through it all she has continued to project her all-American-girl persona, hiding behind her guitar, cats (who are admittedly very cute) and carefully filtered social media posts, her music giving the only glimpse into the real Taylor Swift. Director Lana Wilson (best known for previous documentaries After Tiller and The Departed) does her best to capture the real Swift, with a range of interviews, concert footage, and home videos spanning several years of her career. The result is a documentary that feels both incredibly personal and incredibly controlled as to what exactly we’re allowed to see.
With a runtime of just under 90 minutes, Miss Americana covers a surprising amount of heavy topics. From her sexual assault case and her mother’s cancer diagnosis to her struggles with an eating disorder, it seems that no topic is too personal to be discussed – to an extent. The audience is often left feeling there is more of the story to be told, partly due to the limited runtime but also due to Swift’s understandable desire to share a finite amount of her story. That’s not to say there’s a lack of personal moments or emotion. Scenes in which Swift is told her album Reputation has failed to be nominated for a Grammy in any of the main categories and when she tells her father and male management team that she plans to endorse the Democratic candidate for Tennessee stand out as showing her for who she really is – a young woman just trying to do her best and find her voice, not the voice her team wants her to have.
Of course, theres a second star to the documentary, other than its namesake, which is the music. From concert footage in sold-out arenas to just Swift and her guitar on her living room floor singing to an audience of one, her music is constantly present, providing a soundtrack to both this documentary and her life. There’s a reason she’s the star she is: she’s the ultimate storyteller, the ultimate performer, and as stated by her colleagues throughout Miss Americana, incredibly hard-working. Seeing her song-writing process from start to finish is fascinating, and in some ways the most personal part of the documentary.
Although by no means an open book account of her life, Miss Americana offers both the most devoted fans and just mildly curious viewers alike the most insight into the real Taylor Swift yet – even if it is just a few carefully chosen chapters.
Taylor Swift: Miss Americana is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.