Reviews

Documentary Review: Dancing with the Devil

8 April 2021

By Nicholas C

The highly anticipated release of Demi Lovato’s Youtube original documentary Dancing with the Devil has allowed fans a candid, unfiltered look at drug use and other traumatic experiences the star has faced throughout her life.

When originally writing about my expectations for the documentary, I couldn’t have ever foreseen how brutally honest Demi would be surrounding her experience with fame and a toxic management team.

Addiction

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The first half of the documentary focuses on Lovato’s drug addiction and her 2018 relapse, almost resulting in her death. Many of Demi’s friends and family make an appearance to discuss the second-hand impact of drug addiction on their own lives, as the documentary offers an inside view as to how addiction affects not only individuals but friends and family surrounding them too.

Dancing with the Devil also offers a very heart-wrenching insight into Demi’s past with eating disorders, and how her management would offer her ‘melon cake’ on her birthday in order to keep her weight down. 

Although Demi notes she will never be one hundred per cent free of her eating disorder, she does claim she finally feels as if the voice in her head driving such toxic behaviours has become quieter and more “manageable” than ever. 

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On the topic of mental health, Dancing with the Devil explores Demi’s 2011 bipolar diagnosis. It is explored how the said diagnosis was falsely given, and Demi regrets not asking for a second opinion before announcing her vulnerabilities to the world. 

The documentary also explores sensitive themes of sexual assault, where the ‘Me Too’ movement is discussed in relation to Demi’s experience at Disney in her youth, where she was assaulted by a fellow unnamed actor whose alleged actions resulted in no consequences.

Such a shocking revelation puts the Disney administration in the spotlight and begs the question as to whether or not Disney and other corporations will respond and take action against accusations made by victims of sexual assault.

Recovery

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The latter half of the documentary focuses on a much brighter future for Demi, exploring how the 2020 lockdown has given her time to grow both spiritually and emotionally. 

Despite the short-lived engagement between Demi and her now ex-fiance Max Ehrich, Lovato states she never returned to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism during this time – a huge achievement for her. 

Moderation is a huge theme within the documentary when discussing Demi’s recovery. Although it’s made plain that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, many of the guests as well – as Demi herself – discuss how approaching recreational substances in a moderate manner has been more beneficial for Demi than going ‘cold turkey’.

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Guest star and former addict Elton John promotes the message that moderation isn’t a good idea and that one drink will always turn into another drink. He states the best way to recover is by abandoning drugs and alcohol altogether.

Despite the contradicting opinions, Dancing with the Devil gives a great insight into addiction recovery and how it can be achieved. Although it is made hugely clear that Lovato has been privileged in her recovery (having a great management team and support system around her in the past few years), a lot can be taken from such a short, insightful documentary.

Final verdict

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To conclude, Demi Lovato’s Dancing with the Devil shines a light on and provides an example of how drug addiction can affect individuals and those who surround them, as well as the struggles that come along with mental health disorders. 

Demi’s documentary, as well as her album (an account of her struggles with drugs and mental illness), are now available to view and listen to on Youtube and all music streaming services. I would definitely recommend watching this documentary for an unfiltered account of Lovato’s struggles with young fame. 

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