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JLo seems not so much to mix metaphors as to cut them with coke

Patrick Freyne: As Jennifer Lopez clambers into her own heart in her musical fantasia, an uncharitable critic might suggest she is climbing up a different body part

Solipsistic self-produced celebrity documentaries are commonplace now. We’ve had offerings from the Beckhams, Beyoncé, and Harry and Meghan. Self-produced musical fantasias in which we get to watch a celebrity trip balls after snorting their own persona, on the other hand, are a much rarer pleasure.

This Is Me ... Now: A Love Story (Prime Video) is a hallucinogenic and melodic journey through Jennifer Lopez’s romantic life, which will be very useful if your child is studying JLo’s romantic life for the Leaving Cert (something I assume happens nowadays instead of maths or learning how to drive). It begins with a picture-book story in which JLo recounts an ancient Puerto Rican myth she heard as a child. In the story two doomed lovers, one of whom looks very like JLo, are reconstituted by magical forces as a rose and a hummingbird.

Suggesting that you are the literal manifestation of an ancient demigod isn’t necessarily something that is relatable here in Ireland, a place where you’ll be nicknamed Shoes for the rest of your life if you buy nice shoes. In our culture we’re more comfortable with downbeat stories that go “I fought the oppressor and nonetheless everything is horrible”. (JLo lie the Fields of Athenry.) Nonetheless, I respect the general wackiness of this whole scenario and am willing to go with it.

The storybook sequence melds with one in which JLo and her lover – the side of Ben Affleck’s jaw and ear (that’s all we see of him) – ride a motorbike at great speed along a wet beach while wearing no helmets. It is, I think, a collaboration with the Road Safety Authority. JLo is having a great time, her helmetless hair flowing in the wind, her arms thrust out in the air and her face expressing the ecstasies of love. Then the bike crashes. “J No!” I cry.


Suddenly we are in a dystopian factory where JLo and a large cadre of steampunk factory workers are tasked with the maintenance and upkeep of a huge mechanical heart. Flower petals, motorbikes, mechanical hearts? It’s as if JLo isn’t so much mixing her metaphors as cutting them with cocaine. The giant heart is malfunctioning, billowing smoke and issuing sparks, which can’t be helped by the frequent song-and-dance breaks taken by JLo and her crew. It’s possible that this is an anti-union attack ad. It’s also possible that it’s a public service announcement about cholesterol.

To be honest, the logic of what this factory creates is a little vague. It seems that the mechanical heart causes roses to grow, the petals of which are then fed into a furnace to power the heart. If I were a business consultant I would point out that this is a closed system with no real benefit for consumers. If I were a scientist I would note that it’s a perpetual-motion machine that, like JLo herself, breaks the laws of physics. As a JLographer, however, it is clear to me that JLo must mend this broken love pump.

As I am dwelling on this, JLo dons a hazmat suit and clambers inside her own heart. An uncharitable critic would suggest that the whole exercise involves her climbing up a different body part. I am not that critic. I want to see JLo clambering around inside her own body, much like one of the Numskulls.

Suddenly JLo is sitting in a therapist’s office. Her therapist is played by the rapper Fat Joe, or possibly Fat Joe is her actual therapist, because at one point she refers to him as “Fat”, which is his real first name, I guess. You can’t spell “therapy” without “rap”.

As she’s sitting there she recalls living in a huge glass house with a controlling, whiskey-swigging lout. It is an impractical home – and, JLo and behold, it is soon splintering as they writhe around together tied by a cord.

Up in space, a pantheon of cosmic celebrities called the Zodiacal Council are observing JLo. She seems to be all they’re interested in on planet Earth. Many people have personal belief systems, but JLo has a cosmology. “She’s smart, she’s beautiful and she seems so strong,” warbles cosmic Jane Fonda about JLo, in lines written by the scriptwriter, JLo. Say what you like, but if you could get Jane Fonda to utter scripted compliments about yourself, you’d do it too.

As well as Jane Fonda the celebrity pantheon includes Trevor Noah, Sofia Vergara, Keke Palmer and Neal deGrasse Tyson. Also, if you have ever wondered what life would be like after Malones, there’s a facially tattooed rapper named Post Malone. “We must respect the ebb and flow of the universe,” says actual astrophysicist Neal deGrasse Tyson, suggesting by implication that the greatest force in the universe is Jennifer Lopez.

We then get a musical montage of weddings in which JLo marries a succession of hunks (hunk marriages are ephemeral) while her friends snark about her serially monogamous ways. These friends host an intervention, modelled presumably on the intervention they hosted to try stopping her making this film, the killjoys. She ignores them, buys a puppy and watches The Way We Were with Barbra Streisand over and over on a loop. This is called living the dream.

JLo goes to Love Addicts Anonymous at a community centre, where she demonstrates her pain the best way she knows how – in a sad dance. It is a massive community centre, which suggests that JLo’s programme for government involves lots of investment in local infrastructure. She gives a stump speech to Fat Joe: “I believe good things happen if you’re a good person. I believe in soulmates and signs and hummingbirds. I believe love never dies and forever is real.” Yes, it’s light on policy detail, but the vibes are good. I’d vote for her.

She tells Fat Joe about a dream in which she visits her old neighbourhood, the eponymous “block” whence Jenny “fromed” in 2002′s Jenny from the Block. There she meets her inner child, cradles her and sings her a song. The message here is that she hasn’t loved herself enough. As the whole film attests, this is not an issue with which she currently struggles.

“This is me, now,” she yodels, self-effacingly, and her inner child transforms into rose petals and disperses into air. Suddenly she’s singing in the heart factory and the big mechanical heart starts functioning again, once more creating roses to funnel into its own furnace. (This feels unhygienic somehow.) The zodiac celebrities are thrilled. “On a molecular level, from the attraction of atoms to each other, we see signs of love woven into the very fabric of our nature,” says Neal deGrasse Tyson, an actual peer-reviewed scientist.

Soon we’re back down on Earth, where JLo is dancing in a huge wicker statue of a lady, presumably herself. It seems that, barring the intervention of JLord Summerisle, this film is never going to end. In reality, there is just one more Singing in the Rain-influenced dance sequence, at the conclusion of which JLo encounters her soulmate Ben Affleck’s chin (that’s all you can see of him) but, in a way, all who have seen this film are trapped in it forever. Pray for me, readers. I am watching it still.