Demi Lovato’s life has been ‘Simply Complicated’
The one word pop singer Demi Lovato emphasized in her emotionally-driven documentary, “Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated,” which was released on YouTube on Oct. 17. This free 78-minute film ironically deals with the many costs and turbulent periods in Lovato’s personal and professional life over the years — dating to even before she became a Disney star.
Lovato is known for her edgy disposition and catchy hits like the recent “Sorry Not Sorry” (currently peaking at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, her highest position on that chart), 2015’s “Cool for the Summer” and 2013’s “Heart Attack.” Her signature powerhouse vocals offer the impression that she maintains self-confidence and positivity within.
But “Simply Complicated” reveals quite the opposite.
Prior to becoming a household name, Lovato spoke in the YouTube film that she used to be bullied and felt like an outsider, automatically humanizing her image for the viewer. What was particularly disturbing was when she recounted that several students in her school once passed around a petition with signatures that campaigned for her to hopefully commit suicide. This so-called “suicide petition” factored into Lovato’s mental and physical health. She struggled with depression, bipolar disorder, an eating disorder, drugs and further bullying.
The documentary is interspersed with archived footage of Lovato’s past performances in TV shows and films like her stint with Barney (which included a cameo by a young Selena Gomez), Disney’s “Camp Rock” films and the short-lived “Sonny with a Chance,” and even an appearance on the medical drama, “Grey’s Anatomy.” Members of Lovato’s family and close friends (including celebrities like the Jonas Brothers) provide intriguing commentary as well as anecdotes of how they watched Lovato grow up and battle her inner demons.
All of them particularly noted her deteriorating health when she became addicted to drugs, which culminated in a much reported-on meltdown, which had deafening consequences: pulling out of “Sonny with a Chance” and the Jonas Brothers tour, getting treatment and facing an intervention with her manager.
Lovato spoke about how she even punched out one of her own backup dancers on an airplane upon finding out the dancer exposed her wrongdoings. On the flipside, she also brightened up when she touched on her love life with Wilmer Valderrama (they are currently broken up).
Under Hannah Lux Davis’ direction, the documentary successfully portrays Lovato’s conflicting emotions and inner battles while she expresses her genuine honesty and gratitude for the many lessons she’s learned along the way.
Throughout, several songs from Lovato’s most recent album, “Tell Me You Love Me,” play as she sings to them during the recording process. The exclusive behind-the-scenes look into her recording sessions also shows how both concerned and passionate Lovato was to ensure the album successfully coneys her ideas. Her micro-frustration with the producers shows her perfectionism, which unfortunately feeds into the pressure she faces with fame and her personal life.
While songs like “Games” and “Tell Me You Love Me” provide context to Lovato’s personal experiences in the documentary, they feel like a promotional commercial for the album itself. This yields opposing effects: it’s a smart move for business, yet it somewhat takes away from the emotional honesty of the film.
Overall, “Simply Complicated” succinctly describes how Lovato’s personal and professional life has been for many years. While she has won many awards, multiple successful album certifications and a horde of fans called Lovatics, she is still a human struggling with her own issues and experiences. Yet she remains humble and admits her faults while maintaining that there is still much to look forward to.
Being single and constantly working out were shown in the film to help Lovato keep pushing forward. Perhaps this could inspire more singer-centric documentaries to come like Lady Gaga’s acclaimed “Five Foot Two” Netflix earlier this year.