BFI Flare 2022 Film Festival Review: Charli XCX Alone Together

DIY documentary Charli XCX Alone Together chronicles the British pop star’s development of her fourth studio album How I’m Feeling Now, a release that stemmed from self-isolation and the global pandemic. Finding its spark in exploring the connection between Charli and her legions of queer fans, Alone Together explores the healing power of music and the world of connection and collaboration in the digital age.

Directed by Bradley Bell and Pablo Jones-Soler, Charli XCX Alone Together is compiled of a mix of DIY footage recorded by Charli, Zoom recordings and Instagram lives exploring the life of the singer quarantined at home. Tasking herself with creating a new studio album in five weeks, Charli sets to work calling on the support of her fans, whom she dubs The Angels, in all parts of the creative process from lyrical development to album artwork.

Charli’s relationship with her fanbase is explored as a truly reciprocal bond with the singer delving into the confidence which her fans – particularly those within the LGBTQ+ community – have instilled her with. Giving a sense of her wider career – delving into her hits including Boom Clap and Vroom Vroom and role as a touring artist – Alone Together soon moves focus to the singer’s life during the pandemic. Maintaining a continual relationship with fans throughout the documentary, with some given their own specific focus, it is clear that Charli shares a sincere bond with the fanbase.

Delving into the creative process involved in the album, we get several snippets of the construction process with Charli’s “studio sessions” recorded from the comfort of her own living room. The collaborative element of these is undoubtedly the most interesting angle on display here, showcased with a lyric writing session shared on Instagram live. Other DIY spins on the creative process such as self-filmed green screen music videos will have an appeal to the singer’s fans who will relish the opportunity to see this behind the scenes take on a normally somewhat unseen process.

Bell and Jones-Soler capture the context of the time with foreboding news broadcasts and dramatic bulletins interspersed amongst the creative process, exploring the rollercoaster of the previous years. An access all areas approach highlights the emotional lows brought about during the pandemic on Charli, with the lack of focus and increased sense of reflection prompting some cathartic emotional developments and renewed sense of vulnerability.

Whilst the appeal of Charli XCX Alone Together may be limited to fans of the singer, we happily fall into that camp. Watching the DIY creative process and the collaborative back and forth between Charli and fans makes this an original take on the music documentary, whilst the context of pandemic shows the direct impact on artists and the music industry.

Charli XCX Alone Together plays as part of the BFI Flare Film Festival 2022. Details here.

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