Justin Bieber Our World
Directed by Michael D. Ratner
Featuring Justin Bieber, Hailey Bieber, Scooter Braun
In the middle of the pandemic, as the rest of the world was locked down, Canadian singer sensation Justin Bieber, who had not performed a concert in three years, set out to perform a concert atop The Beverly Hilton on New Year’s Eve, 2020.
“Justin Bieber: Our World” takes center stage on Amazon Prime starting on Friday.
The documentary is a mix of concert footage captured during the livestream event with occupied rooms at the famous hotel who got to watch the concert live, and at a safe distance from the performer and his entourage, coupled with the logistics and efforts to mount the production a month prior to the big date.
Bieber is a performer, bar none. Even as he’s vlogging his way through the early hours the day of the concert, or we’re following him as he works with his dancers and his producers, you feel as if he’s speaking directly to his fans. It isn’t fan service unless you’re not a fan.
To be fair, director Michael D. Ratner guides a picture showing the singer’s maturity and growth, both as a leader (akin to the Pink documentary earlier this year, also on Prime) and as a husband. Interviews with his band, his security guard, his producer all attest to the high standards Bieber has for this production in particular as the production runs the risk of someone contracting Covid within the group. Ratner, and Bieber, who executive produced the doc, go to great lengths to show how safety-conscious the group was in minimizing the risk, as they choreograph their way toward show time.
The editing is jarring to be frank. We transition from a vlog entry by Bieber and his wife, Hailey waking up, going for a morning walk to find their spiritual place to concert footage, either through mounted cameras or drones and back again to documentary footage, the intent was to show that Bieber was on his game. What we get instead is a lot of thrusting and crotch-grabbing along with solid riffs on the part of his band. There’s no denying the man is talented, but unless you’re a Bieleber the magic of a concert in the middle of the pandemic while others are suffering, doesn’t necessarily sit well. If the money raised by the concert were donated, that would be one thing. That isn’t the case here.
What is on the case is how Bieber dotes on his wife; she is his world, and he is her world. The puppy dog love that they display is genuine and honest, but also gets lost in the shuffle. It feels like we’re in their bubble and we’re given a backstage pass to it all.
The camera captures the repeated comments his team makes that are happy to have a job when many others are out of work or locked down, and I’m genuinely happy for them, they earned their money that night. The logistics alone would have probably killed me, but they got it done.
“Justin Bieber: In Our World” is ultimately harmless entertainment. It sends the wrong message at the wrong time, but it is also a time capsule for the last 18 months we endured, and does manage to offer some hope, that doesn’t necessarily feel hollow, rather ill-timed.
PG, 94 minutes, Amazon Studios/Bieber Time Films, OBB Pictures, Scooter Braun Films