BFI Flare review: Charli XCX: Alone Together
5 / 5 ( 1 vote )
Written by Belinda
Virtual dance parties
Getting bin day wrong
This no-holds-barred documentary of Charli XCX making an album during the Covid-19 pandemic is every super-fan’s dream.
Director: Bradley Bell, Pablo Jones-Soler Cast: Charli XCX Certificate: 15
Striving for one creative high after another, it’s clear Charli XCX might not receive the level of worldwide kudos that she should. While her documentary is airing during BFI Flare 2022, she’s enjoying the real-time release of her latest album Crash almost two years later. The promotion might be global, the production value higher, and the fans may come and go, but the community Charli XCX has built remains solid and very much visible.
It’s this sense of community that arguably propels her to “gay icon” status. An honest definition of a true artist, the stark change in the dialogue between star and fan is what makes Charli XCX: Alone Together so endearing, and possibly of remarkable cultural significance. While embodying the traditional rhetoric of needing their fans, Charli’s push against the social constraints of vulnerability help to break down the wall of impenetrable fame.
The documentary is what every super-fan dreams of — a no-holds-barred insight into the life of the person they admire most. Even for audiences that aren’t as attuned to her music, the unfiltered transition to Charlotte Emma Aitchison resonates regardless of taste. There’s a striking impact in her vulnerability, both socially and within a perilous industry that’s long been overdue for drastic reform. Her ability to communicate openly within her platonic and romantic relationships — alongside her gratitude for having that opportunity — is a refreshing palette cleanser for a generation hellbent on vocalising superficial opinions for social clout.
Citing and respecting the foundations of LGBTQIA+ community confidence, the film’s VR visuals and experimentation with original electronic sounds are reminiscent of her late friend and collaborator, SOPHIE. It’s these nods to the pioneering queer culture that make the integration of its community effortless, while also appreciating the strengths of a collaborative creative process. The documentary’s thematic exploration and social media-style cinematography isn’t anything groundbreaking, but the overall embrace from a vast community makes each directorial choice the right one. Describing a sensory overload in a time of nothingness, Charli XCX: Alone Together hits the sweet spot of mental acclimatisation and letting loose.
With her sense of British relatability, Charli explores the emphasis on needing to be a good person in a troubling time, using work to help anchor self-fulfilment. A path that could easily lead to internal destruction, her vulnerable documentation allows audiences to give in to their own pride in a time that already feels like ancient history. Sometimes, the simplest writing is truly the most effective.