‘This Is Me…Now: A Love Story’ Review: J.Lo’s Visual Album Riff Is Just a Commercial for Her Album (and the Concept of Love Itself)

Liem Soeng

‘This Is Me…Now: A Love Story’ Review: J.Lo’s Visual Album Riff Is Just a Commercial for Her Album (and the Concept of Love Itself)

In the summer of 2022, Netflix released “Halftime,” a glossy, shiny, and intermittently revelatory documentary focused on global icon Jennifer Lopez. That offering found unexpected (if highly unrelatable) pathos in the star’s distress over not being nominated for an Oscar for her (quite good) turn in “Hustlers.” Just twenty months later, and yet another streamer (in this case, Prime Video) is now releasing its own glossy, shiny, and intermittently revelatory film project focused on global icon Jennifer Lopez. The pathos, though? That’s mostly missing, but certainly not for lack of trying.

The project (it seems disingenuous to call this a “film” per se, even as its billed as “a narrative-driven cinematic odyssey,” which is, you know, a film) comes from the mind of Lopez herself (credited here with screenwriting and story by credits, shared with Matt Walton, Chris Shafer, and director and veteran music video maestro Dave Meyers), who also co-financed the effort. It’s clunkily titled (and punctuated) as “This Is Me…Now: A Love Story,” linking it inextricably with Lopez’s latest studio album (“This Is Me…Now,” itself a reference to her 2002 album “This Is Me…Then”), which just so happens to be dropping the same day as its “cinematic” component. Synergy!

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The official synopsis for the project is filled with chestnuts that speak less to the content of “This Is Me…Now” and more to its ambition. It’s “steeped in mythological storytelling and personal healing.” It is “genre-bending.” It includes “fantastical costumes, breathtaking choreography, and star-studded cameos.” It is a “panorama” and also “an introspective retrospective of Jennifer’s resilient heart.”

It is, in actuality, a series of music videos.

Still, they are strung together with various narrative threads, some of which hinge on Fat Joe serving as Lopez’s (here only known as “The Artist”) beleaguered therapist and more of which should focus on the “Zodiacal Council” of massive stars Lopez has assembled to leer down at her from the heavens as she struggles to overcome (or embrace? it’s never quite clear) her “love addiction.”

All she’s ever wanted to be is, as Lopez tells us, “in love.” That’s not worked out so well for her, however, as the project opens with a stunning motorcycle ride across a water-soaked desert (just go with it), that sees Lopez’s character’s life upended by a horrific crash that appears to kill her hunky companion (Lopez’s real-life husband Ben Affleck, who does appear throughout the project, though perhaps in surprising ways). The real problem? Her damn broken heart!

What follows is Lopez attempting to link together all manner of love-centric myths (including a Puerto Rican fable about star-crossed lovers that mostly amounts to the recurring appearance of a CGI hummingbird) and her own very public romances to tell a story about the pains and pleasures of being (Robert Palmer voice) addicted to love.

“This Is Me…Now: A Love Story”Courtesy of Prime

Mostly, “This Is Me…Now: A Love Story” serves as a visual companion to her album, a 65-minute music video with random asides about everything from “Waterworld” to “The Way We Were” and even “Singing’ in the Rain.” It’s audacious, but only by accident. Audience members will likely be left slack-jawed by both the good stuff, like Lopez’s luminous skin (and the astounding lighting and sterling makeup work that have added to its movie-ready quality) and her unrelenting charisma (moments in which she’s “acting” in the various narrative pieces serve as reminders as to why we need this woman back on the big screen ASAP), and the bad (Lopez’s vision of how the heart operates, which serves as the basis of the project’s first music video, is nightmarish).

(Then again, it’s hard to knock the creativity of a project that comes with this sort of bonkers cast list: “Jennifer Lopez, Fat Joe, Trevor Noah, Kim Petras, Post Malone, Keke Palmer, Sofia Vergara, Jenifer Lewis, Jay Shetty, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Sadhguru, Tony Bellissimo, Derek Hough, Trevor Jackson, Paul Raci, Bella Gagliano, Brandon Delsid, Ashley Versher, Malcolm Kelner, Alix Angelis, Danielle Larracuente, Matthew Law, and Ben Affleck.” And Ben Affleck?)

“This Is Me…Now: A Love Story”Courtesy of Prime

Lopez’s interest (compulsion?) in sharing her “love addiction” with the world is oddly compelling, even if the general story here is quite basic — she loves love! — and it’s only ever insightful when it gets really silly (like a sequence in which her group of friends, their own bonds never explained, try to push her into an intervention). The best bits are when Lopez winks hard at the public perception of her love life (a sequence that sees her flip through three random husbands at the same wedding is a highlight), even if she never says anything deeper about what this all actually means.

In that first video, a steampunk-inspired take that sees Lopez and a bevy of dancers trying to quite literally restart a sputtering heart, the artist (“The Artist”) sings about how love is not all “hearts and flowers.” It’s a fine — if not particularly rich — insight. But even in this vision (this panorama!), Lopez only goes so far when it comes to excavating her own heart and its mysteries. Perhaps that’s why she eventually kickstarts that heart with a magical pink rose, the most expected piece of romantic paraphernalia, a symbol, but not an actual story.

Grade: C-

An Amazon MGM Studios release, “This Is Me…Now: A Love Story” starts streaming on Prime Video on Friday, February 16.

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