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Celine: Through the Eyes of the World

Less a conventional concert pic than a hagiographic homemovie.

With:
With: Celine Dion, Rene Angelil, Rene-Charles Angelil.

Aimed squarely, if not exclusively, at the most fervid fans of power-pop thrush Celine Dion, “Celine: Through the Eyes of the World” is less a conventional concert pic than a hagiographic homemovie.

As director Stephane Laporte dutifully follows Dion during her worldwide 2008 Taking Chances tour, auds are treated to shockingly few songs presented in their entirety, and an overabundance of backstage and offstage episodes assembled to celebrate the sheer wonderfulness of the French-Canadian songstress. The faithful may flock to screenings during the current limited theatrical run, but even they may be disappointed by the relative paucity of actual warbling.

Compiled from footage shot during Dion’s travels to five continents in 25 countries, “Through the Eyes of the World” often plays like a very long pilot for a reality-TV series about an indefatigably chipper pop star who traverses the globe with her doting husband-manager, Rene Angelil, and impish young son, Rene-Charles, in tow.

A faintly stale air of synthetic intimacy hangs heavily over the proceedings as Dion — who never seems unaware of the camera’s presence — goes to great lengths to demonstrate her warm regard for musicians and backup dancers, her lovingly playful relationship with her husband and son, and her self-mocking antics as a face-pulling, silly-walking goof. Time and again, she comes across as someone trying too hard to be jovially “uninhibited,” especially when she pulls poses that resemble the preening of a femme wrestler at a WWE-sanctioned steel cage match.

Occasionally, there are snippets from live performances, many of them emphasizing how great the leggy superstar looks in tight dresses with precariously high hemlines. Unfortunately, none of the performances sound, well, live. Even more unfortunately, Laporte often presents individual songs as musicvid-style montages of clips from concerts in several different countries, with Dion in several different outfits, which only serves to reinforce the impression that the superstar is doing the same over-rehearsed thing over and over again.

“Through the Eyes of the World” abounds in repetitive scenes in which starry-eyed fans profess their love for Dion — either to the camera, or to Dion in person, or both — and spends rather too much time detailing Dion’s problems with excessive phlegm during a brief bout of vocal distress. And while it’s disarming to see Dion, her husband and their son on assorted sightseeing jaunts, the pic turns borderline offensive when the family visits Nelson Mandela’s former prison cell and, much worse, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin, just so we can appreciate Dion’s sensitivity by witnessing her emotional reaction.

Production values are almost oppressively slick. Additional credits, including cinematographer and editor, were unavailable.

Celine: Through the Eyes of the World

Production: A Sony Pictures Entertainment release of a Hot Ticket presentation of a Prods. J production in association with Feeling Prods. Produced by Julie Snyder. Directed by Stephane Laporte.

Crew: Reviewed at Edwards Marq*e Stadium 23, Houston, Feb. 18, 2010. Running time: 118 MIN.

With: With: Celine Dion, Rene Angelil, Rene-Charles Angelil.

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