"My whole life, I've been battling to be seen, to be heard, to be taken seriously," says Jennifer Lopez in her voiceover, as she proudly walks towards the NFL's 2020 Super Bowl stage amidst the cheering crowd with her crew, in her sparkly black outfit to show the world who she is, and what she represents.
Netflix's Halftime, directed by Amanda Micheli, successfully spotlights the challenges, the efforts, and the triumphs of the global icon, that Jennifer Lopez, or as the fans like to address her - JLo, is.
The film's title Halftime comes from JLo's staggeringly remarkable, yet controversial performance with Shakira at the National Football League's (NFL) 2020 Super Bowl Halftime show in Miami, and also the fact that the documentary kicks off in July 2019 when the icon celebrates her 50th birthday.
If fans are expecting that Amanda's film will reveal some aspects of JLo's personal life and romantic relationships, then they'll be disappointed. The film has limited talking heads - her close associates, a few of her family members and primarily her mother. JLo's documentary swiftly skims over the buzzing topic of her reunion with her long-time partner, Ben Affleck, after nearly 20 years. However, Ben does appear in the film for barely 10 seconds. JLo shrewdly brushes off the topic of her relationships by saying,
"I've lived in the public eye. Im not gonna get into what my relationships were like. But in, how it relates to. And the journey that I've been on, I had to learn that the key was not so much about other people but yourself. It's about being your own keeper."Jennifer Lopez
Halftime, is a film about the icon's professional journey, from her first audition as a dancer in Fly Girls, In Living Colors to becoming the global sensation that she is today. The film takes us through JLo's history, from getting nominated for the Golden Globes with Selena for the first time in 1998, then 20 years later, for Hustlers and not winning, to not being recognised for an Oscar despite all her hard work.
The documentary, revolves around the milestones in her late-career, from juggling between awards and nominations and being acknowledged for the role of 'Romana' in Hustlers, to her acclaimed performance at the 2020 Super Bowl Halftime Show. Besides, the behind-the-scenes footage from JLo's work life, and her talking to the camera, the film occasionally takes us into random flashbacks from her past.
The Controversial '2020 Super Bowl' Show
NFL's Super Bowl, which is one of the biggest stages in the entertainment industry for any performer, came out as racially insensitive and disrespectful to a particular community, in 2020, when it got two Latino artists to perform a job that had historically been done by one artist. The controversy erupted when JLo was told by the highest authorities of the NFL to drop the use of 'cages' in her performance which was a metaphor for the plight of immigrants in America. But JLo stood by her decision to keep the cages.
From struggling between the insufficient time slots of her 12-to-14 minutes show with Shakira to making a powerful political statement on immigration in America through her performance, JLo's tenacity and stubborn attitude of 'not quitting,' are impressionably displayed throughout the film. By putting forth a commendably successful show despite all the hurdles and warnings, JLo put out a great statement of cultural pride, not for just the Latino community but for America's inclusiveness, as a country.
"I do this not for an award. I do this to tell stories and effect change and make people feel something because I wanna feel something. I wanna make the world a better living place in my own little way. That's why I do it."Jennifer Lopez
Halftime genuinely presents JLo's success and failures on the work front - from getting nominated for the Golden Globes twice and not winning even once, to performing "This Land is Your Land" at Joe Biden's Presidential Inauguration in 2021, a year after her 2020 Super Bowl performance.
Amanda's film truly portrays JLo as a woman of colour who has the audacity to pursue her dreams. At age 52, she has sold over 80 million records and is universally recognised as an inspirational icon for many. And as JLo says at the end of her film, maybe, she's not done, she's not even close.
(This review is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on 8 June 2022. It is now being republished to mark Jennifer Lopez's birth anniversary.)
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