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Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero
Photograph: Universal

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

The world’s most fascinating pop star lets the world in... a bit

Almost all the greats have concert films. Madonna. Talking Heads. Hell, even ABBA. However, it feels like, since the release of Beyonce’s Homecoming in 2019, a new wave of confessional concert films has hit cinemas and streamers. Audiences are invited into the previously gatekept, ‘intimate’ parts of an artist's life and witness them, supposedly, in their rawest form. But in an age where every pop star, from Taylor Swift to Machine Gun Kelly, has one, how can you stand out?

Long Live Montero cuts through some of that the noise. Montero Lamar Hill, aka Lil Nas X, has has successfully transitioned from being the ‘Old Town Road’ cowboy and perpetual shitposter to a legitimate pop star in the past couple of years, and his critically acclaimed debut tour ‘Long Live Montero’ is the embodiment of this. With that in mind, you would hope that Carlos López Estrada (Billie Eilish: When the Party’s Over) and his co-director Zac Manuel would dig into what went into the process of transitioning Montero’s musical talents into genuine, offline connections. 

‘I want to go places no one has ever been,’ he says in the film’s opening moments. And it’s clear he has that star power. He’s a magnetic screen presence, and his cheeky, childlike sense of humour (which made him famous online) makes him instantly likeable. 

Then there’s the music. His collaboration with Jack Harlow, ‘INDUSTRY BABY’, is a straight-up banger. And you can’t ignore the wild pairing of sexually suggestive lyricism and graphic religious iconography in ‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)’, which triggered a tidal wave of Twitter criticism from conservative loudmouths. 

But in an age where every pop star has a concert doc, how can you stand out?

In real life, Montero’s shows are often picketed by anti-gay, ultra-religious protestors. At one point, Montero sends pizzas to them as they’re picketing his gig. He chuckles that it’s a punishment ‘because they got pineapple pizza’, before making a TikTok about falling in love with one of them. However, he only came out months after the release of ‘Old Town Road’, so you can’t help but want to know how it feels to be a mouthpiece for the community when he’s still coming to terms with his own identity. 

The most uplifting moments come from backstage footage of Montero and his adoptive family of dancers and entourage. He expresses his growing comfort at being a young, gay, Black man in America when surrounded by people with shared experiences. There’s even a touching moment where his brother says he came out as bisexual because of Montero’s openness about his sexuality. Nevertheless, a two-minute debate about wearing a mini-skirt to see his biological family illustrates the pop star still figuring out how to live authentically. You crave for more moments like this. 

What comes across is a fascinatingly layered individual. He’s deeply spiritual despite being told the devil was inside him when he came out to his father, and he’s fearless in the face of homophobic abuse, even though this documentary’s premiere was delayed because of a bomb threat to the venue.

It’s just a shame we couldn’t go further into his universe to lift this portrait further out of the landfill of mediocre concert documentaries. For now, you may need to stick to Instagram Live and TikTok for a deeper glimpse into who Montero is. 

Available to own and rent from digital platforms from Mon, May 20.

Georgia Evans
Written by
Georgia Evans

Cast and crew

  • Director:Zac Manuel, Carlos Lopez Estrada
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