SXSW 2021 – Demi Lovato: Dancing With The Devil Review

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Demi Lovato is facing her truth and all its honesty and beauty. Her willingness to open about mental health, struggles with addiction and her eating disorder has garnered a support system amongst her fans as they too have found the strength to seek support, changing the lives of thousands of fans. Now Demi is ready to share even more of her truth with her new YouTube docuseries about the scariest moments in her life. Demi’s story has been told in headlines and tabloid articles more than it has in her own voice. Dancing With The Devil finally sees her taking control of her story, chronicling all the heartbreaking and recovery it took to stand in her truth.

Focusing on her 2018 heroin overdose, the series carefully unpacks what really happened that night, her mindset and factors leading up to it and the devastating aftermath. Providing mind-blowing commentary on the scope of tragedy, the Grammy winner makes us feel her struggles are bigger than a single person while interviews with her family, close friends and team members who know her best help to shape that fateful night and its aftermath/ media blame.

Focusing on the aftermath of Lovato’s overdose various stories come into play such as choreographer and close friend Dani Vitale, who face death threats and career was almost ended because of the overdose coverage and blame. Targeted by fans for helping to cause the overdose, the series allows Vitale to set the record straight, in hopes of ending his pain.

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Dancing With The Devil is cathartic for Lovato’s close friends and family, while also reminding people of Lovato’s vulnerability and strength. Going into detail, she discusses not just the events that lead her overdoes but the moments in her life that forever impacted her as a child, the dark secret of a sexual assault, an eating disorder that plagues her this day and the constant media scrutiny no child should handle alone. 

There are bright sides too and these are the moments that speak volumes to anyone in recovery, such as her life throughout quarantine, making clear that recovery is ongoing and continuous. She spends much of these episodes convincing herself her journey is not definitive and she will continue to make mistakes but asks for grace. Arguing that recovery in any form isn’t “one size fits all.”

This documentary not also peels back of Lovato’s life but also forces her to face her truth and her hypocrisy of her past lies as director Michael Ratner address the scrapped 2018 tour documentary, including footage of the production before Lovato’s relapse and overdose. These scenes are a massive contrast to Dancing With The Devil, illustrating just how much could Lovato held back trying to paint a rosy picture of sobriety as she got high and dunk off-camera.

Dancing With The Devil is somewhat self-aware of the fact its subject is a rich celebrity with resources to sober and there are bigger problems going on in the world — late in the series, Lovato makes the comment, “there are bigger things to talk about than me.” But this is actually what this docuseries is about: focusing a bigger story than fame, celebrity perks and the stigma surrounding mental health. “I’m not living my life for other people or their headlines.”

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