Thursday, July 18, 2024

“SATISFIED”

THE STORY – In 2015, “Hamilton” opened and took the world by storm, earning near-universal critical acclaim and, some might say, forever changing the course of musical theater. It certainly changed the life of Renée Elise Goldsberry, who starred as Angelica Schuyler and would go on to win the Tony Award for her performance. The journey to that win was a hard one, though, filled with uncertainty, loss, and, ultimately, growth. “Satisfied” takes viewers through that emotional journey, providing an intimate look at Goldsberry’s path as she grapples with fertility and the desire to have a family, all while balancing her growing career against the backdrop of the hit musical “Hamilton.”

THE CAST – Renée Elise Goldsberry, Alexis Johnson, Benjamin Johnson, Brielle Johnson, Ariana DeBose & Lin-Manuel Miranda

THE TEAM Chris Bolan & Melissa Haizlip (Directors/Writers)

THE RUNNING TIME – 84 Minutes


It has been nearly a decade since “Hamilton” first premiered in New York and made the biggest splash in the theatrical world this century, but its effects are still felt in all entertainment areas. Perhaps the most notable indicator of its impact is the continued ascendency of many of its original cast members. They’ve gone on to lead TV shows, star in movies, and even receive recognition from the Academy Awards. A “Hamilton” credit on an actor’s resume is essentially the theatrical equivalent of an Ivy League education listed on a CV. Renée Elise Goldsberry is one of these success stories.

After years of work on the stage and daytime television, Goldsberry had her greatest triumph yet with “Hamilton,” where she created the pivotal role of Angelica Schuyler. Her performance – which includes her stellar interpretation of the perfect musical theatre moment, which is the song “Satisfied” – earned a well-deserved Tony Award. And yet, her life was far from easy while seemingly reaching the highest peak that a stage actor could hope for. Her obligations to the show – including the unexpected myriad of interviews, talk show appearances, and promotional performances that came with starring in the biggest Broadway hit in years – meant that she had to sacrifice valuable time that could’ve been spent with her two young children. The film “Satisfied” documents this turbulent, extraordinary era in Goldsberry’s life, showing the difficulties that come with balancing an explosive career moment and a loving family.

This subject is incredibly singular, and admittedly, there won’t be many who can relate to the exact specifics of Goldsberry’s story. However, the film quietly achieves something profound in its examination of the conflicts between a woman both working hard at her job and being a present parent. As the film shows, Goldsberry and her husband Alexis had a very difficult time getting pregnant, including at least five miscarriages. Thus, they’re acutely aware of how special their son Benjamin and adopted daughter Brielle are, and every minute away from them is clearly felt deeply. “Satisfied” manages to narrow in so finely on Goldsberry’s joys and hardships that it somehow (almost paradoxically and borderline miraculously) circles back around to become even more universal; this is a phenomenon achieved by few films, but when it happens, it’s incredibly emotionally effective. In a way, the film presents her experience as something of a maximized case study on the impossible standards placed on working women in America. If a woman at the absolute height of her profession – with all the privileges and abilities hypothetically afforded by fame – finds it painfully tough to try and also be there for her family, it can only be even more difficult for the average working woman, not to mention those forced to take on multiple jobs. Goldsberry is shown to be aware of the tenuous balancing act she must manage, allowing herself to feel joy at her achievements and recognition while also feeling hurt by the momentous milestones in her children’s lives that she’s missing.

While there’s something to be found in “Satisfied” for many viewers, it’ll undoubtedly appeal most to theatre lovers and fans of the stage show (the film plays so many songs from “Hamilton,” oftentimes repeating relevant tracks, and woe to those that don’t count themselves as impressed by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work). Still, it’s hard not to be astounded by the segments of Goldsberry’s award-winning performance that are shown, including the entirety of the song from which the film takes its title.

To explore this slice of Goldsberry’s life, the documentary employs a collage-like style, combining videos shot by the subject herself on her phone, archival footage from promotional material and performances from “Hamilton,” and traditional interviews with Goldsberry, Miranda, and others. The filmmaking doesn’t call much attention to itself and instead lets the actress’ story speak for itself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t delve into her career highlights following her run in “Hamilton,” meaning that fans of her spectacularly hilarious work on “Girls5eva” may not be, well, satisfied.

“Satisfied” is smartly neither an all-out celebration of Renée Elise Goldsberry’s successes nor a blistering exhumation of the tough proverbial tightrope act the actress/mother traversed during “Hamilton.” It simply presents the inspiring story of a woman who, despite the hardships faced, has kept going nonstop because she clearly knows what it’s like to wait for it and would never throw away her shot.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - Renée Elise Goldsberry's time during "Hamilton" is explored in a way that shows the difficulties faced by an actress who tries to balance the heights of theatrical success while also trying to find time to be a present mother. This hyper-specific story achieves a level of universality that makes it a worthwhile watch.

THE BAD - It will still mostly appeal only to theatre fans, specifically of "Hamilton" itself. The filmmaking is simple, not drawing much attention to itself.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 7/10

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!

Cody Dericks
Cody Dericks
Actor, awards & musical theatre buff. Co-host of the horror film podcast Halloweeners.

Related Articles

Stay Connected

101,150FollowersFollow
101,150FollowersFollow
9,315FansLike
9,315FansLike
4,686FollowersFollow
4,686FollowersFollow

Latest Reviews

<b>THE GOOD - </b>Renée Elise Goldsberry's time during "Hamilton" is explored in a way that shows the difficulties faced by an actress who tries to balance the heights of theatrical success while also trying to find time to be a present mother. This hyper-specific story achieves a level of universality that makes it a worthwhile watch.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>It will still mostly appeal only to theatre fans, specifically of "Hamilton" itself. The filmmaking is simple, not drawing much attention to itself.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>7/10<br><br>"SATISFIED"