In the same way some actors are better not popping off about their own psychological makeup on the talk-show circuit, some pop stars may be better unexplored in highly personal, lavishly produced autobiographical films.
Beyoncé Knowles has conquered every medium, from the concert stage to feature films and advertising campaigns. She has created stunning song-and-dance spectaculars, she is able to electrify giant stadiums and national TV audiences. Having lived so large for so long, she evidently felt it was time she starred in her own introspective documentary.
"Life Is But a Dream," directed and executive produced by the superstar and premiering Saturday on HBO, is a blend of performances, interviews and backstage peeks at the life of a diva.
The Houston-reared Knowles refers to herself as a celebrity a few too many times for comfort. She speaks of "my craft" and "my art" in a way that most Hollywood types know makes them sound pretentious. And for a woman still able to wow the Super Bowl halftime audience, it seems a tad premature to be offering this sort of retrospective.
She talks in depth about her anxieties, yet when she's performing, undeniable power and sexuality beam through.
From childhood to multiple Grammy wins to entrepreneurial success, Beyoncé confides her insecurities and goals over the course of 90 minutes. Even at that length, there's nothing about her serenading the Obamas with "At Last" at the first inauguration, little about about her Destiny's Child history, not much about her husband Jay-Z except her love for him. Home movies from her girlhood launch the film, segueing into her troubles separating from her father's management and oversight. At ease and gorgeous on a sofa in her home, she talks about her goal of achieving independence despite her lack of confidence.
"I'm truly an artist in the studio," she says.
Outside her home, she seems ill at ease. She routinely ducks behind body guards going in and out of public spaces and seems almost fragile until she takes command, barking orders in the control room before a show.
Once onstage, she owns the world.
From her miscarriage to the famous reveal of the "baby bump" on the MTV Awards to the birth of her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, in January 2012, the indulgent film allows the artist to dwell on her lot in life.
She feels so vulnerable. She is so sensitive. Child birth was a sublime, transcendent experience. OK, let's have some more singing.
Again and again she brings the focus around to faith and wants to spread the word.
"God is real," she says.
The yin and yang of stardom are on display here: The footage from her in concert is breathtaking. The cliches from her interviews are cringe-inducing.
"My life is a journey," she says.
Yes, you're a superstar with a big heart.
Next time, maybe a concert film.