The Greatest Love Story Never Told

The Greatest Love Story Never Told
The Greatest Love Story Never Told
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“The problem with me is, I have been married for four times,” Jennifer Lopez admits on camera during the opening minutes of “The Greatest Love Story Never Told”, “and people must be like what the fuck is up with this girl?”

This semi-candid EPK of a film serves to identify more revealingly than any other thing she’s ever done that Jennifer Lopez has major “problem.” This is seen through her self-financed musical fairy tale called “This Is Me… Now: A Love Story” recently released on Prime video in support of her new album also dubbed, This Is Me… Now.

It’s a struggle faced by all famous people in this digital era and which might apply to anyone who has ever tried being open in this world that can break you for opening your heart. The dilemma has been central to Lopez’s character for so long that it was inevitable it would eventually dominate most of her work since autobiographical nature of music and tabloid frenzy that propelled her into stardom—both exemplified by hit songs such as ‘Jenny from the Block’ which had her trying to choose between feeling loved and being liked—have always been at odds with the flickering self-esteem common among women who feel inadequate.

However strange this may sound, Lopez isn’t the only pop star who’s conflicted about making art while preserving their brand or even using those dilemmas as anchors for unremarkable movie careers (she made 19 movies between Out of Sight and Hustlers –not one worth watching), but rarely has anybody appeared so tangibly fed up with the whole thing.

As indicated by another moment from The Greatest Love Story Never Told where she confesses —one of its most if not its only revelatory part— this particular aspect did not initially bother J.Lo because when she was growing up, she learnt how to manage between paternal neglect and maternal narcissism; however, it served both as her survival strategy as a celebrity and also an obstacle for her to ever sustain a meaningful relationship.

However much she might get personal in this movie, Lopez still remains inscrutable about certain issues; nonetheless, “This Is Me Now… A Love Story” was suffused with green screen miasma that showed she sought out men who thrived on needing to be loved – until at the end when she found herself back with the only man who ever really encouraged her to love herself.

With that in mind, it is worth noting that The Greatest Love Story Never Told is already the second feature-length documentary featuring Jennifer Lopez since 2021 when she reunited with Ben Affleck. At some point, Lopez realized that it would be okay if her heart got broken just once and only then could she attempt making embarrassing art. This whole project—from this doc, through the accompanying musical fantasia plus their new studio album which they both wish to promote—can best be comprehended as being the last stage of solving J.Lo’s ‘fucking problem’”.

“The Greatest Love Story Never Told” is brilliant in that it really shows how much a waste of time J.Lo’s $20 million 65-minute curiosity was, which seems like a combination of two TV programs called “TRL” and “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow”. This might as well be yet another guarded and cleaned-up celebrity biodoc we have been force-fed on streaming platforms, but you cannot say Lopez hasn’t worked on her inability to open up. Or misunderstand her either.

This documentary only works within the larger personal growth story of Lopez. Directed dutifully by Jason Bergh who is at the mercy of his subject/employer, “The Greatest Love Story Never Told” doesn’t feel true enough to stop feeling like sitting in your therapist’s office talking around problems too embarrassing or scary to actually face head-on; the frequent shots of J.Lo sans makeup in morning are about as raw as this thing gets. It does however provide evidence that proves just how open — how desperate — she was to expose herself, and what an outlandishly radical choice for someone who called off a wedding with her soulmate four days before because there was “too much media attention.”

That starts from the top, as the first thing Lopez does when beginning to prep “This Is Me… Now: A Love Story” is to dig out the scrapbook Affleck made for her when they almost got married in 2003 and leave it in the middle of her recording studio for her collaborators to read through at their own leisure. The famously private Affleck makes a brief appearance in this movie (often framed out or heard through disembodied and scripted-sounding voiceover), but isn’t thrilled with any part of Lopez’s decision to unveil their personal life together on screen so she can call it ‘The Greatest Love Story Never Told’ (“It kind of seems like you’re telling it,” he cracks), yet he is more supportive of his wife than he is cautious, and the rare glimpses into their relationship are priceless.

They also demonstrate how much more fun it’d be if this movie was just 99% raw footage of J.Lo hanging out with Affleck on a sofa like they used to do before or doing nothing in particular at home but “give the people what they want” isn’t the prevailing ethos of a documentary more focused on allowing Lopez to show us what she needs.

Lopez opens up about her business side a little bit more and she has no qualms about Bergh capturing some difficult conversations around her dream project. For example, “Halftime” hit some snags, but none of those were as disturbing as seeing an unnamed studio shut down her musical (the incident that causes Lopez to pay for it herself), or sitting in an earshot when A-list stars pass at being a part of the movie’s Zodiacal Council through phone calls (a process that peaks in an astronomical diss aimed at James Corden).

Some of these people are just too busy, but some share Lopez’s fear of looking bad or being punished. The reason that Anthony Ramos cannot play a major part in this film is because he is friends with Marc Anthony, the real father of her children and the person who played a crucial role in her life whom she wanted to represent through Ramos, and when J.Lo explains that all she can do is make a film that has a kind of a little charge to it about her exes, it only shows what emotion she has for them (in “This Is Me… Now”, which hints at Lopez having been abused in some way though don’t be waiting for an accusation). In fact Jane Fonda, so cool as to have remained friends with Lopez ever since they acted together in Monster-in-Law is afraid to come on board because Lopez seems too eager to prove something. Until such time when it becomes clear that Lopez is trying to prove something herself.

And the two hours she will spend on set filming scenes.

The majority of “The Greatest Love Story Never Told” focuses on shooting “This Is Me… Now,” and few details shed more light than this exchange with Fonda. Much budget talk-tons of dance rehearsal footage-and countless words about the specific quality of some mud used in one scene. All threaded together by an increasing if mostly unspoken feeling that J.Lo’s crazy this time around (her affectionate agent/manager duo both have essential supporting parts here-including plenty of worrying), but you don’t say no to someone who made you rich. 

But even then, Jennifer wants it done and never gives up hope while sipping from her diamond-shaped water bottle (or whatever else they give A-listers in L.A.). It is only through the movie timeline of what will become another documentary called “The Greatest Love Story Never Told” that we get glimpses into the movie we are watching, a straightforward narrative of events rather than a more intricate cut of the footage, which is what this streaming featurette could get away with since its only raison d’être is to explain what the other streaming musical that came out two weeks ago was about: J.Lo found true love because she finally invested in herself; and it’s only when she finally invested in herself that she can (hopefully) keep it.

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