Justin Bieber’s Believe is the latest biopic released by the multimillionaire teen sensation’s franchise. What first began strictly as a concert film for the “Beliebers” unable to attend the Believe tour, has since steamrolled into a cinematic spectacle detailing the raw, honest, and sincere truth of Justin Bieber behind-the-scenes. Or, at least, that is what director Jon M. Chu attempts to achieve.
Instead, Justin Bieber’s Believe feels like ninety-two minutes of raw, honest, and sincere self-promotion. Attempts at painting Bieber as an average, relatable nineteen-year-old falls short, and not simply because his circumstances are anything but average. Endeavouring to portray Bieber as a complex, multifaceted human is certainly laughable, particularly as it is Bieber himself who struggles at projecting thought and personality separate to what he has been spoon-fed. The truth, as is Chu’s intent, is certainly unveiled. There is no “real” Justin Bieber, there is only the spectacle on show. Bieber’s posse, a plethora of respected industry professionals such as the likes of Scooter Braun, Usher, and Rodney Jerkins, are quick to jump to his defence, repeating over and over how talented, how sensitive, how selfless, how misunderstood our favourite YouTube sensation has grown to become. This reads as so utterly contrived that the intimate portrait promised to us feels more like Public Relations damage control. Given Bieber’s recent fall from media grace, Chu’s film is the perfect guise to raise morale in any disenchanted fan (or their parents).
Let’s be honest, Justin Bieber’s Believe was never a film meant to be seen (by anyone other than his army of mostly prepubescent “Beliebers”). Despite coming across as compositionally sloppy (some behind-the-scene sequences feel out of order and irrelevant ham), Justin Bieber’s Believe is certainly a spectacle; the flashy lights and big choreographed numbers during his live performances are sure to blindside even the most savvy of fans.
Credit must be given when due, however, and in a clever publicity move, this film is as much about Bieber’s fans as it is made for them. In fact, I would go so far as to say Bieber’s fan-base is, as a collective, the most interesting character of the film. “Beliebers” will rejoice at the chance of seeing themselves on the big screen, though whether they believe they’re portrayed with positive light is to be seen. (But, hey! “Believing” is the film’s maxim.) The inclusion of Bieber’s fans prove essential for two reasons. Firstly, the hyper-emotional home videos of the “Beliebers” provides much needed comic relief from the saccharine musings of a privileged teen. Secondly, by juxtaposing Bieber’s screaming fan-base with archival footage of similar note from the ’60s-’70s, in one fell swoop Chu achieves his primary aim: popular or not, talented or not, Justin Bieber is one multimillion dollar cash-cow of a spectacle.
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