Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour review – the story of a lifetime

Review by Lillian Crawford @lillcrawf

Directed by

Sam Wrench


Taylor Swift


You need to calm down.


Better than a Swiftie’s wildest dreams.

In Retrospect.

The greatest films of all time were never made…until now.

The pop princess's record-breaking stadium tour comes to the big screen with thrilling results for fans.

“She is the light that gives meaning to each to all our lives [sic].” Paul Schrader’s 2018 praise for Taylor Swift was more gushing than he has ever been for Fellini or Welles. His quasi-religious words reflect the audience of 70,000 on screen at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, and off in cinemas across the globe. As a parade of pastel butterflies promenade through the crowd, they reveal Swift out of nothingness to rapturous screams and applause.

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is for the Swifties, make no mistake. Whether they have been here from her Nashville beginnings or only joined the cult during her dizzying pandemic productivity, it is a concert film Taylor-made for fans. It’s vocalised by Swift in her speech, and conveyed by heartstopping winks and sideways glances to camera. Director Sam Wrench and cinematographer Brett Turnball carry this communion with ease, often letting a close-up fall to a teary-eyed onlooker. We watch from every angle, from the vertigo-inducing cheap seats to impossible closeness on stage. Swift is always in command, but she has no diva-like aloofness. Her performance is of intimacy and friendship – it’s an illusion, but it’s a very convincing one.

The concert itself, trimmed for the film with fan favourites ‘The Archer’ and ‘cardigan’ amongst the casualties of the cutting room floor, is astonishing. The eras of Swift, defined by her album titles, are presented out of chronology making for some breathtaking tonal shifts. She begins with the hazy fantasies of Lover (2019) before turning back the clock with a golden Charleston aesthetic for her breakthrough album Fearless (2008). The flailing tassels give way to cottagecore cosiness of evermore (2020), seated alone at a moss-covered piano for a playful rendition of ‘champagne problems’, before a giant serpent pulls up the rug to throw her back into her manic existential crisis of Reputation (2017).

There’s a knowing reflexivity, as has come through her re-recordings of each album with the benefit of maturity. Swift has talked about the phase she was going through with Reputation in Lana Wilson’s beautiful documentary Miss Americana, and the staging and camerawork show this – she runs through a hall-of-mirrors, channelling Rita Hayworth in The Lady From Shanghai, past dancers reflecting her past lives back at her like giant angry Barbies. One breaks free – Swift as a lilac Cinderella singing ‘Enchanted’ from Speak Now (2010), her dancers now performing a ballet blanc around her.

Mandy Moore reflects each era in her choreography, moving from those classical lines to Bob Fosse-inspired numbers for ‘22’ from Red (2012) and ‘Vigilante Shit’ from Midnights (2022). Swift indulges her penchant for the Gilded Age in ‘The Last Great American Dynasty’, staged like a ball from The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, before burning down her Long Pond cabin as 1989 (2014) bursts into life. The go-for-broke sensory overwhelm of songs like ‘Blank Space’ and ‘Shake It Off’ are perfectly offset by the tenderness of her early numbers or the 10-minute version of ‘All Too Well’. Swift reminds us that she’s on her own, and she always has been.

The Eras Tour is the story of a lifetime, and while Swift maintains her immaculate posture, we see her transform over the course of almost three hours. Her hair gets wilder, her makeup starts to smudge, and there’s a sense that she is ready to collapse at the end. It is profoundly moving to see someone be so open with her audience, the meaning of her lyrics taking on new resonance since first writing them. And we were there, we remember it all.

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Published 16 Oct 2023

Tags: Sam Wrench Taylor Swift


You need to calm down.


Better than a Swiftie’s wildest dreams.

In Retrospect.

The greatest films of all time were never made…until now.

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