Almost three years after the release of the revolutionary double album The 20/20 Experience, Justin Timberlake returns with a concert documentary film showcasing the world tour in support of his album. The film, titled Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids, premiered on Netflix on Oct. 12.
The documentary begins with Timberlake and his bandmates preparing for the final tour stop in Las Vegas.
The opening scenes show the group’s preparation, and it intimately follows each member of the band readying themselves for what would be the last time they perform together. While the film is undoubtedly a showcase of Timberlake’s unparalleled talents, it also shows the individual contributions of every performer that made the tour possible.
The set opens with “Pusher Love Girl,” the opening track of 20/20. Timberlake shines throughout the song. He is undeniably in his element, and the camera work parallels his swagger with swift and smooth visuals.
Jonathan Demme, the film’s director, records the concert with ease, never putting style over substance. Instead, he allows Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids to wow the audience with their musical skills.
Unlike several other modern concert films, like Taylor Swift’s The 1989 World Tour LIVE or Justin Bieber’s Believe, Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids does not rely on flashy visuals or excessive edits. Instead, Demme flaunts the performers’ raw talents by filming in a raw, documentary-style manner.
After “Pusher Love Girl,” Timberlake takes the audience into the past with a few of his older songs. Included in the setlist are fan favorites “Rock Your Body” and “LoveStoned.” The most fascinating part of each song is that Timberlake used his old-fashioned style and talent to astonish the audience.
Not only does Timberlake include a diverse setlist, with songs from his latest and oldest records, but he also covers a fair amount of songs. Most notable are Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” and Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison.” With “Human Nature,” Timberlake strummed the guitar and slowed down the heavily energetic show. “Poison” came not long after, and featured some of Timberlake’s best dance moves.
After “Poison,” Timberlake and company close the show with a trio of his biggest hits: “Suit & Tie,” “SexyBack” and “Mirrors.” While “SexyBack” is forgettable when sandwiched between two recent hits, it is still a great performance.
With “Mirrors,” however, Timberlake reaches a new peak. He barely has to sing it at this point, with the audience taking over several times. Timberlake seems emotional at this point, as he knows it would be the end of an era. With the finale, though, he leaves his audience with thousands of smiles on their faces.
Throughout the concert, Timberlake and his entourage are constantly shown smiling at each other in between singing lines, laughing at each other’s crazy dance moves and applauding each other’s riffs. To say that the group is comfortable with one another is an understatement — it is clear that they were a family, and the love they share on stage is tangible. These emotions could be felt both on the screen and at the show.
While the film is advertised as a documentary with a decent amount of behind the scenes footage, there are only a few minutes in the beginning and closing moments of the film. This, however, does not take away from the film, as the concert itself is a treat.
With Jonathan Demme’s organic and unprocessed direction, Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids captures the joy and essence of the concert. The documentary, while nostalgic, will excite Timberlake fans as they anticipate the release of his upcoming studio album.