Hollywood is a truly vicious machine, and child start are sent through it all the time. Britany Spears and Lindsay Lohan are perfect examples of how fame and excess can be difficult for teenagers to handle. Each child star grapples with their sudden rises to fame differently. For Chris Brown, fame came early and was followed by one of the most tumultuous careers in music. There is little doubt in Chris Brown’s ability to provide pop vocals and dance. His abilities have been compared to those of Usher and Michael Jackson throughout his career. For Chris Brown, it almost feels like everything should have worked out for him. His movie “Chris Brown: Welcome to My Life” is a look at why things did not go quite that smoothly.
Chris Brown’s story is not typical. Underneath the usual filler shots of fans crying when they meet him, stadiums filling for his performances, and the celebrity testimonials expressing how gifted he is, this movie tries to deliver his atypical story. He was an artist kid, always singing, dancing, and exploring ways to make art.
He came from a divorced household and was discovered by chance. A talent agent passing through a small town in Virginia offered him the opportunity for his big break. He signed with Jive Records, home to child stars such as Brittney Spears and Justin Timberlake, and moved to New York at the age of 16. His career took off. His debut single, “Run it”, took over the charts, catching the eye of the adolescent pop market with his RnB style and youth. He caught the attention of the music industry with his ability to perform live. His dancing ability drove comparisons to the likes of Michael Jackson and Usher. Chris got involved in acting through movies like “Stomp the Yard” and “This Christmas.” As a child star, he had all the bases covered.
After establishing his rise to stardom, the focus of the film transitions to Rihanna and addresses what many would call the biggest stage of Chis Brown’s career. Like a soap opera crawling toward the season finale, “Welcome to My Life” details how Chris and Rihanna meet and became a couple. Giddy young love that was kept secret and then became a staple of young celebrity love in 2007. Chris maintains that he loves her still and will forever. The interviews in the movie seem to cut deeper and deeper into Chris’s psyche as he explains what they had and how he lost it all. Climaxing with his side of the story, viewers are treated with Chris’s personal recollection of events of the night that he assaulted Rihanna. To spare the spoilers, I will not go into detail of what transpired.
Then there is the post-Rihanna career of Chris Brown. The Chris Brown that we have today. No longer is the happy-go-lucky young star but a troubled and broken man that is trying to piece together a life that has been destroyed by his own demons. The film recounts his stints in rehabilitation and subsequent struggles with substances and depression. We hear from Chris about his theories for his behavior and what he has done to reach a better place emotionally. All capping with his 2015 album “Royalty.”
“Chis Brown: Welcome to my Life” champions the struggles of Brown and ends with a hopeful tune of redemption. Yet, the sense that his path has already been set looms over the film. Yes, he still has musical talent. Yes, he can still dance and put on a great show. And yes, he has grown a lot as a person over the course of his successful career. Yet, there is an underlying anguish due to the loss of potential that Chris Brown carries everywhere he goes. No amount of movies or albums will ever surpass that anguish because it has evolved to define Brown’s legacy.