Review by Sean Boelman
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced artists to re-evaluate and adapt their creative process to accommodate for what is happening in the world. The documentary Alone Together is a fascinating and moving portrait of one such artist, popstar Charli XCX, as she sets out to make art despite the difficult circumstances.
The film follows Charli XCX as she makes a new album in a mere forty days, all the while maintaining an intimate relationship with her global community of fans. It’s interesting to get to see the behind-the-scenes process of how she makes her music, especially since this is one of the first cases in which we get to see music being made in the time of COVID.
Additionally, the movie explores what Charli XCX means to her fans. Although this portion of the film is admittedly a bit underdeveloped, it’s still nice to see documentaries like this that care just as much about the people who make the celebrity successful as the celebrity themself. And there are some surprisingly emotional moments when it comes to this.
There are some interesting fan stories in the movie, but there are clearly more to be told. It seems as if the filmmakers are only using these as a publicity opportunity for Charli XCX. However sweet they may be, the popstar’s contributions are somewhat trite (and perhaps even self-serving) in nature.
That said, what filmmaking duo Bradley & Pablo does best is humanizing their subject. Music documentaries often either glorify the musician or paint them as a tragic figure, but Bradley & Pablo do neither. Instead, they show Charli XCX as just another person who is stuck in the same situation as all of us, lonely and struggling.
At an hour and ten minutes long, the film really rushes through its story. It keeps things to the bare minimum, not presenting a significant amount of performance footage or in-depth interviews, opting for more of a fly-on-the-wall approach watching Charli XCX and co. as they work their magic.
Bradley & Pablo do a great job of incorporating Charli XCX’s music into the movie through the soundtrack, but some of the filmmaking choices are a bit more questionable. For example, there are a few animated sequences that don’t look particularly good and feel out of place since they are so inconsistent.
Alone Together is a very impressive documentary, and one to which a lot of people will likely be able to relate. Although it is far from the most important COVID-19 story to be told, it is nice to see uplifting stories like this about people making the most of the situation.
Alone Together screened as a part of the online edition of the 2021 SXSW Film Festival, which ran March 16-20.