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What ‘Halftime’ Understands About J. Lo’s Comebacks

Jennifer Lopez has lived extra lives than most celebrities. She’s been a dancer and a film star and a pop singer and an entrepreneur and a reality-TV mainstay and a part of the explanation for the existence of Google Photographs. She’s been box-office gold and box-office poison. She’s thought-about probably the most influential Latina celebrities in America, each revered and denigrated—although not at all times in equal measure.

Contemplate it a minor miracle, then, that Halftime, the Netflix documentary about Lopez’s profession, has room to hint greater than 30 years of fame in addition to observe her within the months main as much as her efficiency on the 2020 Tremendous Bowl. Like different celebrity-endorsed portraits, Halftime feels each candid and protected. The director Amanda Micheli’s interviewees embrace solely Lopez and members of her workforce—her dad and mom, her supervisor, and, sure, Ben Affleck—and the behind-the-scenes footage comes throughout as acquainted.

But Halftime isn’t completely a hagiography. After the Oscar nominations overlook her magnetic efficiency in Hustlers, Lopez laughs off the snub, however Micheli tracks her expressions as she rehearses for the Tremendous Bowl afterward, her depth betraying her frustration. Micheli applies a hazy filter to a lot of her pictures, giving them a tunnel-vision-like high quality that implies that Lopez is pushed by a determined, hyperfocused have to be admired—together with a rare concern of failure. Halftime reveals that Lopez understands herself to be a perennial underdog, destined to be taken much less severely than her friends. In doing so, it exposes the grotesque nature of the fashionable fame cycle: Stars are born, then torn aside, then cheered on as they put themselves again collectively once more, as a result of the downfall-to-comeback loop is perpetually entertaining. Lopez has been vilified and vindicated so many occasions that rebirth has develop into her power, the key to her longevity. In accordance with Halftime, nevertheless, each reset takes a contemporary toll.

Certainly, Halftime is most compelling when Lopez tells one narrative whereas Micheli slyly suggests one other. Lopez places up a seemingly invincible entrance: She admits that she had low shallowness and considered quitting Hollywood when the mockery of her crescendoed within the early 2000s, however she discusses these moments nearly as studying alternatives for the J. Lo model. But Micheli captures the price of that persistence. In one of many documentary’s most fascinating scenes, a physician visits Lopez after she begins feeling unwell. The performer, who says she hardly ever will get sick, dismisses her signs till he diagnoses her with an upper-respiratory an infection. “I’ve been slightly depressed, I’m not going to lie … I’ve simply been working lengthy hours, and I’m away from the youngsters,” she says warily. “All of it simply makes me slightly bit unhappy.” She then pivots the dialog again to lighthearted territory, as if keen to vary the topic. “Did you see my film?” she asks, referring to Hustlers. “It’s enjoyable. It’s slightly soiled story, however you’ll prefer it.”

Halftime posits that Lopez will depend on—and even perhaps likes—the problem of frequently proving her price. Because it fast-forwards by her many careers, the movie depicts a sample: Each time Lopez’s stardom has faltered, she’s modified her picture. When her film (and music) profession stalled, she grew to become an American Idol decide, rebranding herself as a single mother who empathized with on a regular basis contestants as a substitute of an inaccessible diva. When she felt she wasn’t in command of the movies she was in, she produced Hustlers, channeling her power into taking part in a gritty antiheroine. When she wasn’t nominated for an Oscar, she delivered a triumphant Tremendous Bowl efficiency weeks later that proved how little she wanted the Academy’s approval. Lopez has a savvy understanding of how inspiring her comebacks might be.

Nonetheless, Halftime falters when interrogating why Lopez wound up on this cycle in any respect. The movie has segments about Lopez’s physique picture, race, and gender taking part in an adversarial function in her reception, nevertheless it glosses over how she has typically leveraged these traits to enchantment to the widest viewers attainable. It additionally barely mentions her months-long estrangement from her household when she was a young person. The query that the movie asks however can’t reply is: Who’s Lopez when her bona fides aren’t being questioned?

Since Halftime launched on Netflix, it’s made gossip headlines for a throwaway remark Lopez made about being given half the time that Tremendous Bowl performers usually get for a set. She known as the NFL’s choice to have two headliners—she shared the stage with Shakira—“the worst thought on the planet.” (As her supervisor Benny Medina factors out within the documentary, the transfer additionally urged {that a} single Latina singer wouldn’t be capable to impress America.) Lopez hasn’t spoken publicly concerning the obvious backlash, however the cherry-picking of her phrases already proves Halftime’s level: that Lopez attracts judgment with each transfer. She is once more being labeled a diva who wants the highlight to herself. She is going to once more, inevitably, bounce again. Lopez has turned doubt into maybe her biggest asset, however Halftime additionally makes clear that she hasn’t but managed to transcend that cycle. For all of the totally different lives J. Lo has led, that’s one rendition of herself she hasn’t skilled simply but.

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