Lewis Capaldi’s management permits the musician to allow filmmakers to explore his anxieties and Tourette’s as a marketing tool for his next album.
With a confusing tone, the Netflix documentary about musician Lewis Capaldi scrapes the surface of the Scottish singer’s experiences, pressures and fears whilst the vulture of capitalism greedily scavenges away.
The documentary, directed by Joe Pearlman, is both observational and editorial, artistically colliding as if Lewis’ art with the Scrooge McDuck bank vault of management. Cutting between locales and quoted snippets with migraine-inducing speed, editorially conflicting Lewis’ earnest insight early on, ‘I’m a realist’.
The realism metaphoric for Lewis’ need for self-expression, explored in the film with two sequences, is exceptional filmmaking, separating itself with stark apparency.
Primarily, in an arrangement where Lewis discusses with his parents how Tourettes affects him, the camera lingers unobtrusively, cycling ND filters onto the lens as Lewis steps outside, an omission of editing to suspend us at that moment – a sentence conjoined through pause, not breaks. Perfection. Its subtle point whispered, cutting the silence.
Likewise, the suspension repeats when Carole, Lewis’ mother, steps away from the formulaic talking heads interview, the camera continuously rolling, the audio picking up her tears and grief when discussing the loss of her sister Pat, the inspiration for Capaldi’s single Before You Go.
Indeed, aside from those two segments, the film is hellishly uninspired, over-relying on archival footage from social media, press junkets, or b-roll footage that montages into establishing shots supported with audibly different interviews and narration.
If the film leant into Capaldi’s enigmatic personality, exploring how he captures himself on camera as hinted at with one recording on his phone, comparing that with the comedian’s personality as shown on social media, this could have presented an exciting dissection into a self-portrait of the artist.
Disappointingly, when Lewis expresses his decision to start taking anti-depressant medications, his joyous authenticity subdues to allow the traditionally conventional Hollywood commercialism to take the reigns of his art, identity and truth.
Broader contextual issues about commercialised mental health aside, the feigning interest in Lewis Capaldi’s well-being one month before his latest album’s release is primarily distasteful.
There are countless examples of musician documentaries, with most being vapid sufficient pieces of entertainment serving as an avenue for revenue, as referenced by Lewis when talking to Niall Horan, remarking his documentary would be called ‘This Is Me’, as a homage to Horan’s One Direction: This Is Us.
So it is perplexing for an astutely aware musician such as Lewis Capaldi to not be more ever-present in its direction or purpose. If only it had the desire to be heavenly sent.
Lewis Capaldi: How I’m Feeling Now is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.
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