I think I’ve seen this film before, but I did like the ending.
I knew I was in for an enchanting experience the moment I walked into AMC Theatres and a dad wearing an “a lot going on at the moment” shirt offered to take a picture of my friend and me in front of the Eras Tour movie posters.
Having attended the Eras Tour concert at MetLife Stadium in May, I was already familiar with the complete setlist, the costume changes and even some choreography in Taylor Swift’s marathon show. But I still wasn’t fully sure what to expect from the concert film. What level of crowd participation would be appropriate in a movie theater setting?
My questions were quickly answered when a swarm of young children ran up to dance in front of the large screen during “You Need to Calm Down,” performed in the “Lover” era of the setlist, and remained standing for the remaining 2 hours and 48 minutes of the show.
Those enthusiastic kids set the tone for the entire theater. Once they broke the ice, the rest of the crowd followed and made the show interactive. Their energy and joy made the viewing special.
Swift’s journey through her albums, or “eras,” from “Fearless” to “Midnights,” was bejeweled, to say the least. The movie followed the same order as the concert with a few cut songs, including “The Archer” and “cardigan.”
I was surprised by how much my theater followed common Swift concert traditions, including clapping twice during “You Belong With Me” and yelling “1, 2, 3, let’s go bitch!” at the start of “Delicate.”
The whole audience was in on the same jokes, giving the experience a meta feel. During “Bad Blood,” the crowd started shouting “She wasn’t doing anything!” and “Hey! Stop!” — alluding to Swift’s viral interaction with a security guard during the song at a Philadelphia show in May.
The film’s cinematography was spectacular. I could see every sparkle on Swift’s bedazzled boots. There were many moments, especially during “tolerate it,” where I felt like I was watching an actual movie and not a recording of a concert I had already attended.
Getting a close-up view of the backup dancers and singers was an element of the film that wasn’t possible in the concert setting. Seeing small details like facial expressions allowed me to gain a new appreciation for Swift’s lyrical storytelling.
With birds-eye-view camera shots, theater audiences could also see the effort put into the set design, with creative floor patterns such as a chess board for “Mastermind” and a floor that cracked when Swift jumped on it during “Delicate.”
Another difference compared to the in-person concert experience was shorter clapping breaks. At my MetLife night two show, there was a three-minute standing ovation after “champagne problems.” Swift called us a “mega crowd.” Nothing could compare to that electric feeling. Those moments would not translate well in a movie theater, though, so it made sense for them to get cut down.
In the “Red” portion of the show, Swift always gives her hat to one lucky fan while singing “22.” Bianka Bryant, daughter of Kobe and Vanessa Bryant, was the recipient of Swift’s hat and a huge hug in one of the film’s most memorable, heartwarming moments.
I completely lost my voice and my entire body was sore for days after going to the Eras Tour concert. During the movie, however, being selective about the moments I stood up to dance for helped me stay fully engrossed by the quick editing, fun choreography and Swift’s cheeky glances to the camera. It also helped me feel physically better in the days after seeing the film.
The energy of each screening will likely vary. Some opening weekend audiences decided to sit back and soak up the performance, while other theaters were filled with young girls shrieking and doing cartwheels.
The presence of so many young Swifties dressed to the nines and singing their hearts out only aided the healing experience of attending my Eras Tour show. The fashion choices among movie-goers added to the film’s immersion. Multiple dads wearing “swiftie by marriage” shirts, little girls in “You Need to Calm Down” music video ensembles and at least 10 different “Junior Jewels” T-shirts were present. And of course, there were lots of friendship bracelets.
“Our Song” and “You’re On Your Own, Kid” were the “surprise songs” played during the acoustic portion of the concert. Swift’s choice of songs from her first and most recent albums marked a touching celebration of her career that honors fans who have “been here all along.”