Published Sep 15, 2016For a movie about one of the biggest pop stars in the world, Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids, the new concert film (and Netflix exclusive) directed by critically acclaimed and award-winning director Jonathan Demme, starts out rather small and slow.
As the chart-topping singer walks into the MGM Grand for the final two nights of his two-year tour in support of The 20/20 Experience, we're introduced to all of his band members, backup singers and dancers by name, as well as where they were born. Timberlake may take centre stage night after night, but it reinforces the fact that his shows would be nothing without all of their help and hard work.
Fans of Demme's most popular concert film, the seminal cinematic Talking Heads classic Stop Making Sense, won't find many similarities between the two (save for a few seconds when Timberlake delicately plays with a mic stand in a way that seems like a subtle nod to David Byrne's iconic interaction with a lamp in his film) — instead, JT + The Tennessee Kids is all pomp and grandeur, a career-spanning set that's hard not to marvel at.
In the world of positive psychology there's a thing known as flow, a state of being in which an expert in a field performs effortlessly and at their highest level. Watching Timberlake and his band serenade thousands of fans, constantly moving (and in full suits to boot), is a great example. He and his dancers make gliding across a floating stage two stories in the air look natural as his band weaves in and out of arrangements specially designed for their performances with ease. Demme and his team, to their credit, show it all unfolding as if you were right in the front row, rarely showing the audience and executing a number of camera tricks that seem distinctly his style, and with the same artful aplomb of his previous films.
At an hour-and-a-half long, JT + The Tennessee Kids strangely gives the sensation of ending too soon, but then, all knockouts feel that way.