Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé ★★★★

Last April, Beyoncé marched onto a stage in the Coachella Valley and led more than 100 singers, dancers, and steppers through the greatest performance in the modern history of music festivals. Beychella — as it was destined to be known — was live-streamed by 458,000 people, watched by 43 million more on YouTube over the months that followed, and almost immediately dubbed as the definitive pop culture event of the year. This April, Beyoncé managed to fit the whole spectacle into a euphoric, triumphant, and exhaustingly fierce documentary that should help see Beychella enshrined as one of the definitive pop culture events of the century. Call it history in the making, part two.

Even at a time when everything Beyoncé does feels like history in the making, Beychella stands out as a uniquely special event — it remains an epoch unto itself. Of course, most people on this planet don’t need to be told as much. It’s become common knowledge that the concert was an exuberant celebration of black excellence, staged (for maximum impact) at a desert venue that had almost exclusively been an oasis for white artists. It’s now a basic fact of life that Beychella featured brass-forward rearrangements of Beyoncé’s biggest hits in order to highlight the rich tradition of stepping at America’s historically black colleges and universities. There have even been reports of children whose first words were “Remember when the show climaxed with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams materializing on stage for a three-song Destiny’s Child reunion? Beyoncé. Did. That.” This is the stuff of the collective unconscious — a documentary about it almost feels as redundant as it does essential.

If “Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé” were nothing more than an opportunity to relive Beychella with flawless high-def sound and video, it would still be a major public service (between this and “Springsteen on Broadway,” Netflix has found a truly benevolent niche). And for the first section of this 137-minute movie, that’s exactly what it appears to be. Beyoncé had directed every shot of the livestream in advance, so it’s not as if what the world saw that night was just a random hodgepodge of angles that were desperately trying to capture the moment.

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