What do you do when it’s all over? Not just a badly paraphrased Elton John lyric, this is the question that Louis Tomlinson’s documentary sets out to answer right at the start. More than a story of fighting for success against all odds, ‘All Of Those Voices’ is a love letter to the people who made his career what it is today.
Rewinding the clock from Louis’ triumphant show at London’s O2 Shepherds Bush Empire last December to his televised X-Factor audition in 2010 (after declaring “I hope it doesn’t make any part of this movie” in ‘This Is Us’, this time his audition performance is not shown), the film opens with a rapid-fire rollercoaster of emotions.
We see the immediate success of One Direction at odds with the heartache of not being featured on the band’s early singles, achieving more songwriting credits than any of his bandmates is juxtaposed against not being prepared – or even feeling any sense of closure – when the group took their hiatus. All of this occurs in the space of about ten minutes.
“By the end of it, I knew exactly who I was – in the band,” Louis tells the camera. “There’s no guarantee and there’s no security,” he adds later. “Anything could happen next.”
What happened next is the story this documentary was created to tell. Through loss and love, both personal and professional, this is – as Louis declared when the film release was announced – “my story with you in my own words.”
‘All Of Those Voices’ is a story of love and family – both the kind you grow up with and the kind you find for yourself. If grief is love with nowhere left to go, this documentary is Louis’ way of expressing that. Heartfelt conversations with family at home in Doncaster pay tribute to the life and legacy of the family he’s lost, while humorous conversations to camera on the road honour the family that’s been found along the way.
Family, friends, colleagues, and band are just as crucial to this story as Louis is. Whether they’re offering testament to his character, guiding him through vocal warm-ups turned stage performance therapy sessions (sir, we’re going to need to hear more of those lower registers), or leaning into the camera as if sharing a secret to declare “it were better than one of the One Direction gigs!” of one of Louis’ own headline shows, though all the ups and downs, this documentary is a celebration.
There are sad moments and there are soft moments (find a more adorable moment in any documentary than Louis’ son Freddie drawing his dad’s logo with a stick in the sand, we dare you), but through it all, ‘All Of Those Voices’ is a celebration of the graft, the grit, and the people who make us who we are.
It’s not comprehensive. Louis’ annual Away From Home festival isn’t doesn’t get as much as a mention (given that there’s an entire documentary devoted to the first event, a lack of focus on this makes sense), and breaking his arm twice in the space of a year is also glossed over (though, to be honest, we probably wouldn’t own up to that either).
What this documentary is, is connective. We see the band become a tight unit, celebrating not only the music but the fun they’ve had playing it along the way. Drinking in the bus back lounge and playing a game of odds that results in garish gig attire and on-stage planking and push-ups, the film is a celebration of shared experiences.
As is customary with anything Louis does, his fans play just as important a role as he does. We see fan projects in action, light displays created by the crowd in appreciation of the person in front of them on stage. We also see a fan holding a sign saying ‘I’m 13 but I’m taller than you’.
A particularly heartfelt moment sees a fan read out an essay they wrote convincing their family to agree to them camping out before the show. When they finish, their friends tell them “I love you.” It’s unclear how long they’ve actually known each other, but all of this is what the fandom is all about: sharing enthusiasm, feeling connected, and supporting something you love – and having fun with it.
What’s next is anyone’s guess, but what’s clear is this is only the beginning. With a number-one album in the bank and an arena tour set for later this year, Louis and his fan’s successes seem only set to grow.
“This is all I fucking ever wanted,” Louis tells the camera as the film reaches its conclusion. If it’s not too cheesy to wrap up a review by quoting his own lyrics, then we think it’s fair to say, “we made it.”