Review: Lemonade

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I don’t know what I was doing in April of last year that I thought was more valuable than indulging in Lemonade, but I was a fool. A silly, silly fool.

I’ve always appreciated Beyonce: she’s crazy talented and smart, but I’ve never really been one to worship her like she’s freaking Mother Mary.

Sweet Saint Bey, please forgive me for my sins.

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After the upset at the Grammy’s this month I decided to see why it was such a big deal that Adele won for 25 over Beyonce for Lemonade. So, I decided to pour myself a nice, tall glass of Lemonade. And now I cannot get enough.

Lemonade is a work of art! The music alone is really impressive and an excellent concept album, but combined with the visuals of the film it’s like a Terrence Malick-level work of art. I was so impressed.

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In an unconventional sense, Lemonade definitely had a screenplay. Poetry from Warsan shireΒ is featured throughout and it stitches these songs together in order to tell the story of women (particularly, black women) and the inherent strength and value we possess. It’s a celebration of women as sexual beings as bringers of life. More than once in either the poetry that Beyonce narrates or in the visuals we’re reminded of the power the connection between mothers and daughters, the value of a legacy and what can be passed from one generation to another.

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Lemonade features brilliant choreography, but perhaps just as powerful are the stoic shots of black women of all ages and sizes of color just staring at the camera. Beyonce makes herself incredibly vulnerable in parts of Lemonade and I think these shots that sort of expose these women are meant to exude that same vulnerability. It’s as if to say, “here I am; flaws and strength and pain and joy and completely unapologetic about who I am”.

lemonade2More explicitly, Lemonade is about the cycle of betrayal, revenge, reform and the resilience it takes to come out whole on the other side. This feels like an incredibly powerful piece from Beyonce, so you can’t watch it without thinking “What the hell did Jay-Z do to her?”. The answer to that question doesn’t really matter, but man, if I’ve learned anything from Lemonade it is that you do not FUCK with Beyonce.

As I watched Lemonade I found myself analyzing it like it was a film because, really, I think it was. I honestly wish they had released Lemonade theatrically and submitted it for the Oscars. Given how O.J.: Made in America is bending the rules, I think Lemonade could have easily snuck in. And really – lets compare this to something like Tree of Life; in the vein of abstract filmmaking how different is Tree of Life from Lemonade???

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From a technical, below-the-line perspective Lemonade was beautiful. The cinematography was gorgeous and the editor really cut together the hours of footage they probably shot in the perfect way. There are moments that feel a little artsy for the sake of art, but for the most part there is a lot of substance throughout.

I really think Lemonade could have been a contender and probably even a winner in the art department. The production design is gorgeous, each section has its own distinct look but everything seems like its from the same world, there’s a common thread that I can’t quite put my finger on. The costume design and hair and makeup are beautiful. That yellow dress she wears during “Hold Up” is going to be iconic.

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All of the costumes are styled to complement but also redefine its environment. The modern sections are spectacular but I was particularly taken with the portions of Lemonade that look as if they are supposed to take place on a plantation in the 1800s. There’s never an explicit reference to this, but the rural environment combined with the period-style of dress speaks to that. I love it. Beyonce, a talented, powerful, independent black woman in America, is wearing a costume that is reminiscent of the slavery-era south in a film that celebrates the power of black women. That subtle re-claiming of power through fashion is brilliant.

Honestly, I think Beyonce could have EGOT-ed with this album alone. She won a Grammy, I honestly think this would have been a contender for Costume Design in the Oscars, a brief stage run would qualify this for a Tony (I think), and a television special should qualify it for a technical Emmy.

I just loved Lemonade so.much.

It was angry, it was tender, it was fun. Seriously, I watched and my mouth was half agape, I wanted to dance, I got chills, I wept. And then I replayed it.

BOY BYE.

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