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Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour film review – a cacophonous testament to megastardom

Taylor Swift, whose billion-dollar Eras tour redirected the flow of commerce and social media this summer, has fashioned herself as 2023’s main character. With the global release of her concert film, the 33-year-old singer is arguably teetering on the brink of overexposure. It’s also her most cogent and immersive argument against it – a near-exact replica of the stadium show that reinforced her inexhaustible talent and undeniable status as pop’s pre-eminent songwriter.

Swift has hailed the concert film, filmed over three nights at LA’s SoFi Stadium in August, as “the perfect capture of what this show was like for me”. That’s a bit of a misnomer. The film assumes Swift’s rarefied perspective for just a tantalisingly few moments, gazing from behind her into tens of thousands of blinking, screaming lights. Save for a few snippets of the audience – mostly young women, mostly shrieking or singing or in tears, all devoted – this is a film of Swift, in hyper-definition and from seemingly every possible angle.

Related: Taylor Swift review – pop’s hardest-working star gives Eras tour her all

Directed by Sam Wrench, who has helmed concert films for Billie Eilish, Lizzo and Brandi Carlile, the film is a feat of scale. Wrench ably calls upon all the tools of mega-tour videography, careening between the vast crowd and myriad shots of Swift: her zoomed-in face, pinpricked with sweat, or head-on, as she is flanked by her own background screen image. The film captures the singer in such crystal, steady vision that you can collect treasures of details – the individual sequins on her couture bodysuits, the scuff marks on her stage.

Like the show itself, the film is a stupefyingly grand production whose contents are as advertised: the Eras tour concert, which encompasses 17 years of music across her 10 studio albums, no interstitials or interviews or backstage footage. Unlike the show, the movie can account for the cacophonous din of the stadium, a whirlpool of sound that mostly engulfed Swift’s voice in person, at least at the two shows that I attended. The film allows for extended stretches of riotous cheering, but Swift rings above, clear as a bell. And Wrench’s meticulous shots often emphasise the supporting cast – dancers, backing vocalists, band – that get overshadowed in the live show’s heady focus on her.

Sans the costume change breaks and with seven inconspicuous elisions from the LA setlist, the concert’s runtime – normally upwards of three hours – clocks in at a respectable two hours, 45 minutes on screen. It could be shorter; though every song had people in my screening bopping along, it can feel like a marathon without the collective energy of 70,000 people. Which is yet another testament to Swift’s impressive stamina: her bangs get progressively sweatier, but in only one shot did I catch her breathing hard.

The camerawork is less steady, tending to mirror the volume of the song; the louder the bass, the more breathless the cuts. It can be a dizzying, at times exhausting racket of edits, and a relief when the camera allows the show’s most searing moments of fan-idol connection – the blistering All Too Well, the nostalgic acoustic section, Swift’s oddly precocious banter – to proceed with minimal theatrics.

At its best, the Eras Tour film manages to capture the why of that bond, the shock of her vast stardom against the startling emotional clarity of her songwriting. The Eras tour, she says, has been the most special experience of her life; in this deft rendering, it’s easy to feel the intoxication of being in her temple.

  • Taylor Swift: The Era Tour is in cinemas worldwide.