One of the most talked-about subjects of its moment, this documentary is likely to elicit either fascination or disdain.
Some of those interviewed in Britney vs Spears seem either hesitant to talk or unwilling to offer full details of their involvement in the celebrity's career and life. Other voices are notably absent from complicit participation, including all of the Spears family, though they're seen in significant video footage and some new material in Britney's own words and handwriting.
Instead, filmmaker Erin Lee Carr and her research partner, journalist Jenny Eliscu, pick through documents, highlight photographs, scroll through recreated text and voice messages, and interview a tight circle around the star (notably two ex-boyfriends as well as a biographer, former managers and assistants, lawyers, and doctors) to piece together the strange story of the conservatorship of Britney by her father.
One of the most unique aspects of Britney vs Spears is the granting of quite so much camera time to Carr and Eliscu themselves. Their real-time discoveries -- and the impressions and opinions they share about the subject -- aren't particularly compelling cinema. Nor are they in any way objective: Fan Carr admits she was "obsessed" with Britney as a young girl, and Eliscu sheds tears recounting a time she dropped her role of journalist to do Britney a favor. They lambast the "patriarchy" controlling the singer.
Their partiality also comes across in the film's line of reasoning and effects (like ominous music over dad Jamie Spears' image or calculated absence of some well-known images of Britney's "meltdown").
This is advocacy more than reporting, but if you're just interested in perspectives on what has happened to the star over the last two decades, you'll certainly find them here.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.