Netflix’s Shania Twain Doc Misses The Mark. Or Not?

As someone who is interested in such things my ears perked when, having just finished the infuriatingly addictive latest season of Virgin River and looking for something to do, Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl popped up in my list of Netflix recommendations. After a few nights of teasing, I succumbed. Whilst a great reminder of a history-making career, it serves her only mildly. Read on.

Cross-legged zen-sweet moments aside, herein we artfully dodge the elephant in the room, which would be a deep examination of the otherworldly magic that happened when she collided both personally and professionally with the legendary producer, Robert John “Mutt” Lange, Jr. I do not begrudge this approach, and I get the delicacy of it. But it doesn’t really work.

Or does it? Reminders abound. And important ones, they are. For example: did you remember that Shania Twain sold over 100 million albums? That’s physical albums. Not Downloads. Like, 100 million people went to the store and bought her stuff. Yeah. That.

This makes her the best selling female artist in the history of country music — and take a second to think about that history — and one of the best selling musical artists of all time.

The film goes out of its way to remind us of these facts, and it is good to be reminded. She is unmistakably an icon. There would be no Taylor Swift, for example, without Shania but why couldn’t the producers get her on camera to say so? They settle for Avril Lavigne. (No disrespect, Avril, but still). It’s just…lazy and self-indulgent, I guess. Of course Avril will go on and on about her, you know? (Again, sorry).

So her awesomeness comes across but it is thin on legit testaments to that awesomeness. And it is thin on, again, the elephant in the room. Mutt. How great would it be to have the two of them discuss on camera a collaboration of the sorts music history hadn’t seen before or since? “When I first saw you, I saw love,” she purred — obviously to him in the booth — at the beginning of one of her greatest hits. I mean, you cannot dance around a collaboration that yielded three consecutive diamond-certified albums. Or can you?

Mutt is apparently in Switzerland and he doesn’t talk about his breathtaking successes as one of the greatest producers the music world has known (AC/DC, Bryan Adams, Def Leppard, Shania to name a few) so perhaps he was simply unavailable. But again, Shania Twain’s story is inseparable from Mutt Lange’s. And trying to tell it whilst dancing around him doesn’t quite work.

I guess I am just confused. It’s great to be reminded and it’s great to see her looking so well but those things aside, there isn’t much to this film. Masturbatory is, I guess, the word that sadly comes to mind. It is, however, very clear in my head once again that Shania Twain is the best selling female artist in country music history, so maybe that’s the point. Point taken. I guess I just think a legacy like hers deserves more honesty. And that’s that.



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Veteran media / comms advisor & political strategist, producer, non-profit management pro, writer for a variety of publications. Beach dweller. Handful.