Taylor Swift has big shoes to fill in releasing a concert movie. The bar has been set high by the Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense and Prince’s Sign O’ the Times. Luckily for her, she’s very, very good at shattering expectations. Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour stands with those other two films in capturing what’s special about their central artists. This is a spectacular experience on a massive screen with booming surround sound. If you’re not already a fan, you probably will be after seeing it.
Swift’s tour takes audiences through 17 years of music. A section is devoted to each of her albums, in non-chronological order. Performing in front of about 100,000 people at L.A.’s Sofi Stadium, the singer opens with “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince” from her Lover CD, then segues directly into Cruel Summer. The arrangement is carefully laid out, with songs from lo-fi pandemic records Evermore and Folklore put in between the high-energy Reputation and 1989 eras. Midway through the concert is a show-stopping 10-minute version of Red’s “All Too Well.” Tunes from her recent release Midnights provide the finale.
The Eras Tour is clearly one of the most technically sophisticated ever mounted. Swift’s stage constantly changes its appearance thanks to moving parts and video screens. Every song is accompanied by a carefully crafted production. Many have Swift and her backup dancers carrying out energetic routines or mini-plays that reflect the lyrics. Others focus more intently on the singer alone on some kind of set, thereby achieving an intimate feel. They accentuate the music perfectly. Not a clunker can be found.
Director Sam Wrench knows how to cinematically reproduce the magic of seeing the show live. His cameras are often onstage with Swift, allowing you to feel as though you’re watching from a chair right next to her. Wrench also knows when to pull back so that the scope of the tour’s design can be fully appreciated. You get a strong sense of how big it is. The singer-songwriter’s creativity and artistic vision are conveyed with dazzling results.
The film additionally illustrates that Taylor Swift is arguably the hardest working person in the music business. She sings, plays instruments, changes costumes, dances, and hits marks – all while making it look effortless. Equally impressive is how The Eras Tour reflects her ongoing reinvention. From country, to folk, to pop and beyond, this extraordinarily talented woman has avoided being pigeonholed. Watching her go through multiple musical styles – and master them – keeps the movie continually captivating. Few artists have had such durability.
In spots, Swift talks lovingly and appreciatively to the crowd, or stands onstage visibly humbled by the enthusiastic response she gets. Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour demonstrates the dynamic those dedicated “Swifties” respond to. She gives 100% at all times and remains both real and relatable in the face of massive fame. You have to love that. With 41 terrific songs and an eye-popping presentation, this was one of the best times I’ve had at the movies in 2023.
out of four
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is rated PG-13 for some strong language and suggestive material. The running time is 2 hours and 48 minutes.