'Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé' proves that somehow she's still underrated

beyonce renaissance tour
Beyoncé performs during the Renaissance World Tour.Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood
  • "Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé" topped the box office for its opening weekend.

  • The concert movie offers a rare peek into the legendary singer's creative process.

  • Even though Beyoncé is beloved, behind the scenes, she's even more impressive than we realize.

On Sunday, I went to see Beyoncé's new concert film with three friends in tow. All four of us cried.

Half of us had the chance to attend the Renaissance World Tour in person, including myself. We knew what was going to happen — the songs, the choreography, the iconic ballroom interlude starring Honey Balenciaga. And yet, we still shed tears for the better part of three hours.

Some of these emotions were easy to trace. I felt vicarious pride for Blue Ivy Carter, who overcame online criticism to become a key part of the show, a star in her own right. I shared the family's grief for their late friend, Uncle Jonny, who introduced Beyoncé to the genres that flow through her "Renaissance" era. "He exposed me to decadence and to creating my own reality," she tells the camera.

But most of my tears came from a guttural place, somewhere more instinctual and difficult to pinpoint. It's best described as gratitude — for the feat of endurance I felt lucky to witness, even through a screen.

"Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé," which topped the box office for its opening weekend, does so much more than recreate her latest live experience. In between clips of Beyoncé singing and dancing, she takes us backstage for a rare glimpse into her creative process.

The juxtaposition is key because when Beyoncé steps in front of a crowd, she makes everything look easy. ("I woke up like this," etc.) She wears her skill as a performer better than anyone else.

But the time, care, and attention to detail that she pours into her art, especially a spectacle of this magnitude, is anything but easy — and Beyoncé has a hand in every stage of the process, from vocal arrangement to lighting design.

The movie reveals that the Renaissance World Tour took four years to ideate and execute. During that time, Beyoncé underwent knee surgery and was forced to juggle physical therapy with rehearsals. She tweaked the set list, refined the visuals, and fought through several bouts of bronchitis. She even went to battle with her crew when she didn't feel properly heard, or her requests weren't taken seriously.

"I feel like, being a Black woman, the way people communicate with me is different," Beyoncé says in the movie.

"Everything is a fight," she adds. "Eventually, they realize, 'This bitch will not give up.'"

It goes without saying, but if Beyoncé has to check her own crew members, during preparations for her own record-breaking tour, we can't even fathom what else she's had to overcome — not just to bring "Renaissance" to life, but throughout her multi-decade career.

This isn't to say Beyoncé is a one-woman show. In fact, she outfitted her "Renaissance" crew members in reflective jumpsuits, so fans could see their movements on stage. Beyoncé is keenly aware of the complex anatomy required to keep the show's heart beating. The film is partially designed as a love letter to her biggest supporters, including her employees.

But bees have a queen for a reason, and Beyoncé keeps everything buzzing.

Even though she's one of the most awarded and celebrated entertainers in history, behind the scenes, she's even more impressive than we realize. As a lifelong fan, I left the theater gobsmacked.

So if you think you know how good Beyoncé is, think again.

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