'Celine: Through the Eyes of the World' is an Insult on Many Levels

City Pulse | February 22, 2010
She: Not Right

Celine's Strange Distribution

Celine: Through the Eyes of the World (One Star) (529 words)

By Cole Smithey

Presented as a "performance" rather than a documentary of her 2008-2009 "Taking Chances" world tour, "Celine: Through the Eyes of the World" is an insult to your intelligence on many levels. Television writer/director-turned-glorified-editor Stéphane Laporte spastically splices together performances of the same song from various concerts in diverse global locations like Cape Town and Dubai so that you don't get the continuity of a single Celine Dion show. Back stage shenanigans, photo-ops with foreign children, teary-eyed press conferences, and saccharine moments with her family, bodyguards, and dance crew substitute for a storyline. Perhaps the most glaring example of corporate pop music on the planet today, Celine plays to the lowest common denominator masses who have sipped from her egomaniacal Kool-Aid and are only too happy to blabber on about it.

Like an amped-up cross between Ann Coulter and Sarah Jessica Parker, the singer gesticulates and pulls faces like a circus clown as she exaggerates the literal import of every oh-so-spirit-lifting power ballad. Think of her as the anti-Sinatra. Distrustful of her abilities, Celine smothers every song with cloying histrionics tilted to make you feel like you're being force-fed a giant box of gooey chocolates with a rhinestone-encrusted funnel. There's nothing smart or natural in her performance. Even as a skilled vocal technician, here is a singer who doesn't know the first thing about phrasing or mood. Perhaps a few years with some Graham Parker records would help. I'm not kidding.

A day visit for Celine, her husband, and child to Hitler's Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin provides an opportunity for Celine to experience some deep feelings that she'll repurpose in that night's duet with a German opera singer. Whew! While in a South Africa, a visit to Nelson Mandela's former prison cell provides yet another chance for Celine--sans make-up--to pull sad faces like a vaudeville child actor seeking applause. The film also loses points for stealing part of its title from "Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World" (2001). The most satisfying moment of the film arrives in a backstage scene with Celine doing an imitation of a horse that is spot-on. Oh yes friends, we've got a "special" one here.

The irony is that Celine's overkill act might work better as an off-off-Broadway performance art piece about greed. In New York City, cinemas that charge $12.50 for films that screen several times a day, "Celine: Through the Eyes of the World" costs $15.00--because it's a "performance"--and is shown only once a day in a logic-defying schedule that switches from 7:30 at night to two-o'clock in the afternoon depending on the day. The unspoken reason is that the film is scheduled to screen only eight times at each cinema it plays for its limited week-and-a-half run to work fans into a tizzy of anticipation for her upcoming tour.

The Associated Press reported recently that Celine is due to return in March of 2011 to Caesars Palace where her new show will feature songs "incorporating the romance of classic movies."

Not Rated. 117 mins. (D) (One Star)

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