J-Lo: The rise of intimate love life revelations

In an early scene, Lopez is filmed holding up a black file box. “This book is a book Ben gave me on our first Christmas back together. It is every letter and every email that we wrote to each other from 20 years ago and today,” she says. On the cover, Affleck has written: “The greatest love story never told by Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck 2001-2021 and counting”.

But Lopez has chosen to tell the story after all. To provide inspiration for This is Me… Now, the book of letters was even shared with her team, who, she says, “would thumb through it”, soon dubbing its compiler “Pen Affleck”. “She would pick one and she would let us touch them and read them,” says songwriter and collaborator Faangs in the documentary. Affleck was surprised to stumble upon this scene and tells the camera: “Things that are private, I’ve always felt, are sacred and special because, in part, they’re private, so this was something of an adjustment for me.”

Particularly controversial was the decision to include a close-up of what is believed to be a copy of a 2002 letter from Affleck. It reads: “Life’s tough but you’re sweet. Thanks for the gift. Hope you like the flowers. You told me you could never have enough… I believe you. Bx.”

There’s no doubt that the “Bennifer” love story is epic, but some feel making their correspondence the basis for an artistic project risks tarnishing rather than elevating their narrative. Lopez’s producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas says in the film: “I wasn’t sure if I wanted her to reveal all this; I wasn’t sure if it was necessary.”

For Lopez, however, sharing a private letter or two serves a higher purpose. “I just want people to believe that love exists,” she says. “And if I can use my story to do that, then, as an artist, that’s what I should do.”

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