British singer-songwriter Louis Tomlinson, who rose to fame as a member of the global phenomenon One Direction, recently released his very own documentary. With a focus on his personal life and career path more than on the making of his music, the film isn’t a music documentary or a concert film per se, but more a look behind the scenes that allows Tomlinson to be vulnerable and show the world who he is as a person.
The movie starts off with clips of his One Direction days and how he, a simple working-class lad from Doncaster, made his way into the world of glitz and glamour. Tomlinson talks about how comfortable he was in the band working together as a unit and how grateful he is for all the experiences, memories and friendships he made. However, during the time when One Direction first started, Tomlinson also admits to feeling left out and overwhelmed, not necessarily knowing his place within the band. As producers kept cutting his vocals out of songs and gave his parts to vocally stronger band members, he came to the realisation that if he couldn’t be in control of whether he was singing or not, he at least wanted to be in control of what was being sung – and therefore found his place in songwriting. “Having the most songwriting credits is something I’m very proud of,”, he states in the film.
Over the years, Tomlinson gained confidence and a feeling of security while being in One Direction – the last two years within the band being his strongest ones – when suddenly Zayn left the group and it felt like “the beginning of the end”. A year after that, the band announced their hiatus – a decision that Tomlinson emphasises he did not make and certainly not agreed with. Grieving the loss of his band, worldwide success and overwhelmed by the question of “what am I meant to do next?”, he had to face another drastic hardship that would change his life forever – the passing of his beloved mum, and shortly after that, of a little sister. Tomlinson, who spent the first seven years of his life alone with his young single mum, had formed an incredibly strong bond with his mother and uses the time during one of the interviews in the film to reminisce in-between laughs how, instead of calling his best friend, he first phoned his mum right after he had lost his virginity. It was because of her and the way she raised him that he knew there was no other option than to keep going and doing what he loves.
What came after was the release of his first album ‘Walls’, with songs addressing his losses, and embarked on his first very own worldwide sold-out headline tour. But despite the massive success from the get-go, the aftermath of his first few shows was different to anything he had experienced before. “Coming off stage with One Direction, I felt like a God,”, he remembers, while admitting that doing so all by himself for the first few times would often make him feel disappointed and unhappy with his performance skills, the self-deprecation overpowering.
After headlining multiple festivals, upgrading to an arena tour, encountering hardcore fans that spend days camping outside venues just to be close to him, and seeing his excited little son Freddie at one of his own concerts for the very first time with a sign that said “Lil’ Dad” – as he refers to his son as “Little Lad” – Tomlinson seems to now finally have reached a point in his life where he thinks that he “deserve[s] it”.
“That’s the first time I ever said it out loud,”, he grins into the camera as the movie ends, the credits start to roll, and the very end reads, “With Special Thanks To Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles”.
Written by Vicky Madzak