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SXSW 2021: “Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil” Film Review

Over the past couple of weeks, there have been several different docuseries centering on women in the entertainment industry who are getting their story out there, from “Allen v. Farrow” to “Framing Britney Spears.” In the documentary “Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil,” Lovato opens up about her own story. Mainly, Michael Ratner’s documentary focuses on the moments in her life that led up to her overdose in July of 2018, along with what happened after. “Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil” is an incredibly raw and vulnerable documentary that features the singer opening up about the complexities of addiction.

The documentary starts off by showing footage from the singer’s “Tell Me You Love Me” tour in 2018. At the time, a different documentary was being made with her at the center. However, mid-concert footage, the 2018 documentary cuts to black as information comes across the screen, detailing how this film was shelved after her hospitalization. For the next couple of years after that, Lovato took a step back from the spotlight.

It’s at this point when “Dancing with the Devil” cuts to interviews in 2020. Alongside Lovato, her family and friends discuss what happened leading up to the night she overdosed and the aftermath of it all. Each of them appears a little hesitant at first to fully open up. However, simultaneously, they all seem relieved to finally be talking about it. Even Lovato states from the onset that she wants to set the record straight about what happened that night, and she truly holds nothing back.

Lovato speaks about her experiences candidly. She’s completely transparent about her actions, both then and now, and owns her story in a very powerful way. As a viewer, I couldn’t imagine how healing it must have been to open up like that. Difficult, of course, but there’s a release that can be felt from her the more she talks about it. It’s also absolutely heartbreaking, especially when she gets into details about how her body was affected by the overdose. In a way, the documentary (which will appear as a four-part series on YouTube) almost felt too short. There are so many different details throughout it that 20 to 30 minutes per part just never felt like enough time.

However, I can also imagine the difficulty of just talking about this journey in general. Opening up about experiences like this is incredibly hard, and in the end, I’m just so happy that she’s here. “Dancing with the Devil” is an important watch, especially for how it discusses the complex intricacies of addiction and how people handle it in different ways. I have so much admiration and love for Lovato and am so happy she was able to get her story out there.

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