While we wait for her highly anticipated album Crash, alt-pop innovator Charli XCX’s first documentary feature takes us back to a different time and closes the book on her last project, the Mercury Prize-nominated how I’m feeling now. Directed by music video auteurs Bradley & Pablo, who previously worked with Charli on her ode to weird and wonderful romantic diversity in the “Blame It On Your Love” video, came to her with the idea when they heard of her ambitious plans to make a full album from scratch during a 5-week lockdown order in the pandemic’s earliest stages. Alone Together is an earnest dedication to Charli’s dedicated fanbase, who played a major part themselves in the creative process.
Mostly put together from raw footage of Charli’s recording sessions at home, the exciting novelty of spending the day in pajamas, cooking and FaceTiming with Christine and the Queens and Clairo soon turns to uncertainty and panic as Charli dives into her music as a distraction. The fourth-wall breaks and eye-opening dissatisfaction with her own creative process as the crunch of self-imposed deadlines looms makes it all feel a little like her own version of Bo Burnham’s Inside, but the moments of joy that peek through the existential dread are what really give it its heart. The solidification of her relationship with longtime long-distance partner Huck Kwong, portrayed through shaky zoom-in closeups and goofy fake interviews, is a highlight, but this documentary belongs to the fans.
Represented as cartoon avatars, many of Charli’s fans – or “Angels” – get their own spotlight as they explain what belonging to such a supportive, diverse community means to them. Without many tools available to her, Charli asked her most dedicated Angels for suggestions, and many of their lyrics, artwork and music video clips appear in the finished product. Charli’s concerts, as they explain, are the place they feel most free to be themselves. how i’m feeling now was a collaborative effort between artist and fanbase to recapture that atmosphere virtually when they needed it most.