Ecstatic fans, a crowded stadium, suspended from a harness in a sequinned pink fuchsia outfit, Pink belts out her 2001 dance floor anthem “Get the Party Started”, her best-selling number of all times. As the camera pans across the arena giving one a glimpse of the roaring crowd, you cannot miss an observant little girl and a toddler clapping his hands with glee taking in the spectacle unfolding before them.
This opening sequence sets the tone for Micheal Gracey’s documentary, Pink All I Know So far.
From New York to Amsterdam zipping across continents, one city, one tour after the other, encapsulating the energy of a thousand Pink’s stage prowess apparent as she showcases her showmanship, pitch perfect vocals, grand sets and the insane acrobatic moves done so effortlessly you could well be watching a Cirque Du Soleil act.
‘All I Know So Far’, follows Pink through the leg of her 2019 “Beautiful Trauma Tour” which covered 156 shows across 18 countries. I literally got a front row seat vibe into her world not just as a performer but as a curious fly on the wall into her personal space as she balances her life not just as a singer but a mother something she emotionally lets you when her own mother told her, “you make motherhood look easy”.
As she and her family touch down at Amsterdam, we are introduced to her children --- eight-year-old Willow Sage Hart and three-year-old Jameson Moon Hart --- who have embraced the circus of tour life like seasoned globetrotters.
We hear Pink’s matter of fact voice over, as she goes about doing typical mama things, running baths, prepping meals, play time as well as having heart to hearts, saying, “I enjoy getting up and seeing the world with my kids as much as I enjoy nailing it on stage. Many moms don’t do this, it’s easier for a man to walk out and not look back, but a mother can’t walk away and can’t think about her children and to worry. Many moms I know would stop touring, it’s not easy but I do this because I feel we are making memories as family. I want the tour to be perfect but I also want to be perfect for my kids.”
Talking about the project, MIicheal Gracey in an interview to me, said, “When we were making the film the whole thing about a rockstar juggling being a mom was very important to me, because a lot of times you don’t relate to the world of these pop or rockstars because it’s so extreme. I really discovered that the version what Pink presents to the world and what she is are not different people, the Pink you know and love is very much the same person behind closed doors, when you meet stars and interact with them you do realise that’s never always the case.”
This comes to the fore as she recounts moments from her own childhood, a birthday party none of her friend’s turned up for, her parents’ divorce and her first stage performance soon after, a grainy video of a pre-teen Pink singing Madonna’s 1989 single Oh Father, your heart aches for the little girl.
“I feel you sign up for the life you have chosen, your parents, your struggles, obstacles and the healing” you hear the singer say matter of factly.
Her own vulnerabilities as a mother echo as she worries for her daughter Willow introverted and sensitive who had been bullied at school. Willow is the opposite of her baby brother Jameson, stubborn and extremely social, Pink laughingly admits her son Jameson Pink is more like her in character, But her raw emotion towards her daughter is apparent as she encourages the little girl to be her own person and regard the world as her own stage.
A moment which particularly moved me in the narrative was a long shot of Pink rehearsing, dangling from the roof of the stadium, as the camera zooms into her suspended upside down from a harness. A thoughtful Pink remarks, “This is how my children know me, am just mama for them. But, one day they are going to see through all of it, they will see the act, they will see through the strength and they are going to find the truth underneath and hope they will disvover that am just little Alicia (Pink’s real name) who is still hiding in there and still learning how to heal. I hope they have the grace and the heart to accept my mortality and that I am human like they are.”
Director Micheal Gracey, who made his directorial debut with Hugh Jackman’s Greatest Showman in 2018, proves that he is a master storyteller, never once does the unscripted narrative falter. The documentary feels nothing short of a musical, as it captures the essence of Pink and her family’s private moments on tour buses, hotel rooms to family outings between concerts. The stage moments from rehearsals to backstage preps to the performance serve as transition propelling the narrative forward. Gracey cleverly uses voice-overs inter-cutting them with interviews and music which lends credence to the screenplay.
As is the case with pop star documentaries which strive to give unguarded vulnerable moments, a chance to embrace the human behind the star person, “All that I know So far” ticks all the boxes.
Michael Gracey says, “The challenge was actually keeping up with Pink as her stamina is unmatchable. I and my one cameraman just wanted to be flies on the wall just observing her. What makes the film feel personal is that it’s not full of interviews, these are conversations whilst chatting in the car, on the way to the rehearsal or after the show when she is chilling with a glass of wine with her husband post-performance, after she has put her kids to bed and her musings about work, parenting and life.”
Despite sold-out concerts, Pink says she is accountable if fans have got their money’s worth, breaking down when reading a letter from a fan who thanks her for healing her through her music and experiences. That’s the moment of validation Pink seeks beyond her music, has she made a difference, known to be strong advocate of gender equality and LGBT rights?
The final leg of the tour is the concert at Wembley Stadium, London, the only time she is spotted alone styling her razor cut bob in the make-up room, admitting sheepishly, “This is my therapy, the only time I am all myself fixing my hair which hardly needs to be styled.”
As she runs on stage performing a medley of her hits, zooming across the crowd on high wires, spinning in mid-air, she appeals, “Why are we wasting time and energy to ban love, I don’t want there to be gay marriages, I just want there to be happy marriages,” and that perhaps gets her the biggest applause from the crowd of 70,000 spectators assembled in the stadium.
I am not a big fan of pop star documentaries, but this one had me glued for the 100 minutes, as Pink says, “I feel you do sign up for everything in life, your parents, your obstacles, struggles and the healing.” As it concludes, one can’t hello but cheer a woman who says it’s possible to do it all and life is nothing short of a chartbuster for this Rock Star Mama.
Pink, All I Know So Far is available on Amazon Prime from May 21.
(Puja Talwar is executive editor, entertainment, at Good Times, who lives for coffee, dogs and K dramas)