You know how movies that treat the books they’re based on as sacred texts sometimes feel a little dry? Beyoncé‘s new video “Best Thing I Never Had” kind of has that problem. By committing so intensely to the song’s storyline, the video ends up feeling like it’s not for us—it’s for the guy who, as the song puts it, showed his ass. There’s a lot to like about the video, to be sure, but it’s not much more satisfying than listening to the song.
The video opens with pre-wedding Beyoncé, alone in a white room in white bridal lingerie. Her reflection on life turns to the one that (thank God) got away, and she starts singing to him/the camera. This bit has its cake and eats it too: it’s a brag to the man who didn’t know what he had:
So she shows the camera exactlywhat he had—for a minute and a half. Since it’s all in the spirit of a boast, it’s not at all inappropriate that Beyoncé just walks in her underwear!
Then we get Beyoncé out on the grass in her wedding dress (almost a pastoral version of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” VMA performance), interspersed with clips of her character thirteen years ago, attending prom with the Best Thing She Never Had:
This serves a dual purpose. It demonstrates a way in which he shows his ass:
At the same time, it reaffirms that this is not autobiography. We know what Beyoncé was doing in 1998. For all we know, these characters at a 1998 prom could even be dancing to “No, No, No”! And anyway, this whole segment is worth it for the clip of the dude after she kicks him to the curb.
Then we get the wedding. The best part of the video, though, is the wedding reception that follows. Any Beyoncé video can only have so much of just Beyoncé (the “Kitty Kat” video, for example, is only a minute long). The reception, meanwhile, has a relaxed, real-people, party vibe. Plus B engages in one of our favorite of her pastimes: dancing with children.
We could watch that forever!