Netflix review: 'Britney vs Spears' gives a sober look at conservator controversy

Fred Hawson

Posted at Sep 29 2021 12:17 PM

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Britney Spears hit it big in 1999 with her number one album and single, both entitled "Baby...One More Time," and she had been sending hits into the Billboard charts and headlining sold-out concerts consistently since then. Pretty and charismatic, this former Mouseketeer had always been in the public eye, hounded by paparazzi, with tabloids and magazines documenting her every move in her private life, good and bad. 

In 2008, Spears had a very public breakdown after she lost custody of her two sons Sean and Jayden to her ex-husband Kevin Federline. She spent time in a UCLA psychiatric facility and placed under medications. This led to a court ruling favoring that her person and estate be placed under a conservatorship under her father Jamie Spears, which was unusual as conservatorships are usually granted for dementia patients who cannot decide on their own. 

Earlier this year in February, there had already been one documentary film about Spears that came out called "Framing Britney Spears." Directed by Samantha Stark, this was a sympathetic account of the rise and fall of Britney Spears' career, and how her controversial conservatorship under her father came about. Justin Timberlake was memorably painted in a very bad light here, worse than either Jamie Spears or her then-boyfriend Sam Lutfi.

This new documentary "Britney vs. Spears" focused more about Britney's tight legal trap of a conservatorship. It was basically a conversation between the director Erin Lee Carr and Rolling Stones journalist Jenny Eliscu as they looked through and commented on various documents that came out about the case. It featured interviews with Spears' rumored ex-boyfriends paparazzi Adnan Ghalid and former manager Sam Lutfi, as well as her former personal assistant Felicia Culotta (who was very clear who she did not want to talk about). 

"Britney vs. Spears" is a considerably more sober affair than the more colorful "Framing." Aside from the "toxic" Jamie Spears, shade was cast against former manager Larry Rudolf, her business manager Louise Taylor and another ex-boyfriend Jason Trawick. Meanwhile, the controversial role of Lutfi was essentially diminished. 

Carr saved the best for last, as we hear Britney's own impassioned speech appealing for her freedom in court last June 2021. The final cards update the progress of the case up to September 7, 2021. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."