Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour
2023, PG-13, 168 min. Directed by Sam Wrench.
REVIEWED By Alejandra Martinez, Fri., Oct. 20, 2023
At my screening of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, the mood was warm and celebratory: a high school sleepover with friends. Looking up at the screen, there was a giant Taylor Swift gliding across the frame, and also the inevitable outline of fans underlining her, swaying along in the front row. Your mileage might vary on seeing the silhouettes of strangers, collectively dancing, singing, and sharing deeply cathartic moments with each other while the spectacle of The Eras Tour plays out. This collective emotional response, however, is one of the movie’s magic tricks: letting Swift’s powerful stage presence spill into the theatre. Over the course of nearly three hours, the film transmits Swift’s star power onto the screen and creates something so charismatic and entertaining that it’s nearly impossible to turn away.
A showcase that spans 17 years of Swift’s music, from her 2006 self-titled debut album to last year’s Midnights, The Eras Tour might prove a challenging watch for the casual listener. However, Swifties (or people who’ve come around over the years to appreciate Swift’s acumen as a writer and musician, like this critic), are in for a true blast. If there’s one thing that can be said for The Eras Tour, it’s that it doesn’t lose momentum, with all the performers and musicians carrying the energy, theatricality, and quality without missing a beat. The kinetic editing matches their energy while maintaining a coherent structure, with title cards filling up the screen to let us know which era we’re in. Perhaps the most impressive feat of this editing was for Swift’s 10-minute rendition of “All Too Well” from her version of Red. It plays out in its entirety, and the camera work never feels stale or too chaotic, finding a balance that’s borderline hypnotic and letting Swift’s performance stand by itself – a smart choice, especially for a performance of this length.
We also get a great sense of scope, with wide shots of Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium, where the film was shot. There are moments you aren’t always able to appreciate during a live performance: a closer look at Swift’s immersive sets, a better sense of the choreography and effort it takes to perform on this scale, and flashes of the fans themselves, their raw emotion captured forever. The result is a solid sense of place, but scale and emotion too, ramping up the excitement with every frame.
While, on the whole, the movie is a fast-paced, engaging watch, there are also some slower moments. This is inevitable in any artist’s setlist, but especially Swift’s, and thankfully, the selections from 2020 back-to-back releases evermore and folklore give Swift and company to breathe. It’s necessary for the viewers, too. As Swift’s song “The 1” floated across the speakers, her voice singing “I hit the ground running each night/I hit the Sunday matinee/You know the greatest films of all time were never made,” audience members reverently sat down, giving us all a moment to collect ourselves.
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is bound to be a blast for anyone who has been moved by Swift’s songwriting or musicianship no matter the era. It’s an impressive, career-spanning feat from one of our most notable performers that’s worth seeing on the biggest screen you can. The dancing, singing, and rowdy camaraderie fostered in theaters might be hit or miss depending on what you want from a trip to the theatre. Regardless, there is something to be said about cinema that can reach out off the screen and move us, emotionally and physically.