But regardless of the era Swift’s revisiting, her singular ability to connect emotionally with both the songs and her audience is what shines through. Her showmanship is astonishing – her hustle, her joy – but there’s an abiding authenticity at the core even as we see her evolve from one album to the next right before our eyes. The awesome amazon of “Anti-Hero” (from her latest, “Midnights”) is also the plucky up-and-comer of “Our Song” from the early days. She’s both the delightful dork and the vengeful vixen, but she finds a way to make every person in that crowd feel like they’re her BFF and soulmate. Maintaining relatability within stratospheric superstardom has been Swift’s impressive balancing act, and that’s always on display here, no matter what song she’s singing.
And you get all the biggies, from ubiquitous earworms like “Shake It Off” and “Bad Blood” from “1989” (which I could never hear again and be totally fine, but they were probably a blast in this live setting) to playful anthems like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble” from “Red.” But “The Eras Tour” movie also gives us plenty of time to luxuriate in her achingly vivid songwriting during the “folklore” and “evermore” eras. The performance of “champagne problems” at a moss-covered piano—which she wrote with ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn—is an emotional highlight, as is “betty” on the acoustic guitar from within the rustic “folklore” cabin. Although she’s long been a fashion icon for women and an aspirational idol for little girls everywhere, her evocative storytelling is her deepest and most transcendent strength, and this film wisely allows us to appreciate that ability anew. (From these early pandemic-era albums, it would have been nice to hear “cardigan” and “no body, no crime” with HAIM, who joined her on stage throughout the Los Angeles run, but you can’t have everything.)
One of the coolest parts of having so many cameras at play here—and you never see a single one of them, it’s a miracle—is that it gives us the opportunity to notice the little things, like the fact that Swift’s microphones change in color and detail to match each era. We can also ooh and ahh at the painstaking detail on her exquisite costume design, including sparkly Versace bodysuits, Christian Louboutin boots and the flowy Alberta Ferretti gown she dons for “folklore.” Even if you were lucky enough and could afford tickets to attend one of these concerts, you couldn’t achieve this level of intimacy.
Every tiny bit signifies how seriously she has taken this massive endeavor, and it all pops brightly on the big screen. Taking it all in over the span of 165 minutes may sound like a lot if you’re not a hardcore Swiftie—and truly, it is exhausting by the end—but purely as a cinematic experience, “The Eras Tour” is enormously entertaining. Pull on a couple of friendship bracelets and surrender to the phenomenon.
In theaters now.