Director: Joe Pearlman | Cast: Lewis Capaldi (himself), and others | Time to play: 96 minutes | Year: 2023
In May 2019, a shy Scotsman released a pop album that would go on to sell over ten million copies. Lewis Capaldi: How I feel now it’s about a singer-songwriter’s fear of never being able to get over that outlier and disappearing prematurely into a deep, dark hole. On paper, that sounds like yet another story about the cost of celebrity and the expectations that come with it. That the documentary is compelling despite its formulaic design is entirely due to Capaldi himself.
When Capaldi first appears on screen, his forehead is sweaty. His shoulders shake as he speaks, his body language conveying discomfort. It’s hard to see someone so out of his comfort zone, and when the interview clip in question is shown in more detail later, it turns out that the singer must have been feeling worse at this point.
On the eve of the covid pandemic, Capaldi has to temporarily interrupt the closing concert of his world tour because his back and shoulder are bothering him too much. Once locked up, he begins to write again, but the prospect of an inevitable return (sooner or later) undermines his self-confidence; the greatest success of him, someone you lovedit turns out to be more of a curse than a blessing. How can you improve if you have already reached the ceiling?
It feels appropriate to say that Capaldi is not your typical pop star. Many ‘typical’ pop stars perform on stage with a personality they don’t possess in reality. They are confident, exuberant, and act like they have everything under control. Capaldi never wore that mask. Oh wait, I’m a celebrity now, he thought as his breakthrough hit him. He somehow realized that now he could behave differently, wear different clothes. Although he didn’t fall to his knees, so he didn’t get lost in the constant pretense, he couldn’t escape a mental breakdown.
In how i feel now Capaldi displays impressive self-awareness. The singer is not only open about his status (“I feel like an impostor”), his fans (“I love you, but I don’t understand you”) and his fear of death, he also understands how documentaries like this contribute to the image of the celebrities. “Often you see an artist play a song on the piano, and then the picture jumps forward a year into the montage and the audience goes wild.” Then half-smiling, “Isn’t that happening to me right now? It didn’t work then.”
It is not often that an artist of the stature of Capaldi is heard joking that his documentary This is me will be called The dry and honest comments of his parents betray where the Scotsman got his sobriety from: “it sucks,” says his father after the singer has played a not-so-sick demo. That this sense of truth also has a self-destructive side is made clear when Capaldi tells how he writes his own music: sitting behind a piano and “hating himself.”
The artist exposes himself to Joe Pearlman’s camera in such a way that the documentary needs little else to impress. The usual (for a music documentary), garishly edited footage of packed concert halls is lavish and even feels a bit alienating; Because Capaldi himself is so genuinely awed by the fact that people queue for hours in front of him, it’s also harder to see him as a logical crowd-pleaser.
Last fall, Capaldi was diagnosed with Tourette’s disease. The news helped him understand where the tic in his shoulders is coming from, but it also increases the likelihood that he may have to end his career early. In the music industry, compassion often has ulterior motives: When Capaldi “flops,” his manager also sees his own profits evaporate. He is not explicitly stated anywhere, but he is felt somewhere. how i feel now like a fat middle finger to that way of thinking. Capaldi’s second album will be released ‘finally’ in May. Do we look at the transmission figures or listen to the music?
Lewis Capaldi: How I feel now can be seen in Netflix.