CULTURE

An Ed Sheeran Documentary Premiered At the Berlin Film Festival, And the Critics Really Don’t Like It

‘Songwriter’ was directed by Sheeran’s own cousin.


Matthias Nareyek/Getty Images

Ever wonder exactly how Ed Sheeran’s Grammy-winning, bestselling album ÷ came together? Well, even if you didn’t, there’s now a documentary all about it, and so far critical reaction is pretty tepid. While there’s no denying that Sheeran is a talented, popular musician who can write the living hell out of a love song, the film apparently fails to find anything else to say about him. It doesn’t get into his personal life. It doesn’t get into his substance abuse issues. It doesn’t even get into that whole TLC/”No Scrubs”/”Shape Of You” debacle. Instead it’s about Sheeran, well, recording the album for an hour and a half. And it was directed by his cousin, Murray Cummings.

“Who else but Ed Sheeran fans, after all, would have even a passing interest in seeing Songwriter, a cozy in-house study of the unlikely British megastar’s creative process, directed by his own cousin?” asks Variety of the “for fans only” film.

Less generously, The Hollywood Reporter speculates that “fans and non-fans alike will be disappointed by this thin, elusive backstage snapshot.” Not to put too fine a point on it, and we certainly don’t mean to be mean, but the THR review concludes that the film, “looks and sounds fine, it just skimps on its basic duty to inform and entertain viewers.” Burn.

Over at The Guardian, the film, which recently premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, apparently made a bit more of an impression. “It does…show that Ed is not the wokest guy around, with that freshly laundered Hooters T-shirt of his,” notes the review. “It convincingly shows Sheeran to be a restlessly, even obsessively creative songwriter: that is the focus of the movie.” Well, sure. It’s called Songwriter and delivers on its promise.

Almost every write-up notes the moment that Sheeran tells the camera that his aim is to be “bigger than Adele.” And on that ambitious note, let’s all go listen to some Adele.

Related: Ed Sheeran Is Engaged to Cherry Seaborn

See Dua Lipa, Sting, and More of Music’s Biggest Names at the 2018 Grammy Award’s Wildest After-Party

Dua Lipa arrives at Universal Music Group’s 2018 After Party to celebrate the Grammy Awards at Spring Studios in New York City on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Dina Litovsky for W Magazine.

Dua Lipa arrives at Universal Music Group’s 2018 After Party to celebrate the Grammy Awards at Spring Studios in New York City on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Dina Litovsky for W Magazine.

Sting arrives at Universal Music Group’s 2018 After Party to celebrate the Grammy Awards at Spring Studios in New York City on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Dina Litovsky for W Magazine.

Eve arrives at Universal Music Group’s 2018 After Party to celebrate the Grammy Awards at Spring Studios in New York City on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Dina Litovsky for W Magazine.

Imaan Hammam arrives at Universal Music Group’s 2018 After Party to celebrate the Grammy Awards at Spring Studios in New York City on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Dina Litovsky for W Magazine.

Sarah Silverman arrives at Universal Music Group’s 2018 After Party to celebrate the Grammy Awards at Spring Studios in New York City on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Dina Litovsky for W Magazine.

Dave Chapelle arrives at Universal Music Group’s 2018 After Party to celebrate the Grammy Awards at Spring Studios in New York City on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Dina Litovsky for W Magazine.

Kali Uchis arrives at Universal Music Group’s 2018 After Party to celebrate the Grammy Awards at Spring Studios in New York City on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Dina Litovsky for W Magazine.

Jessica Williams arrives at Universal Music Group’s 2018 After Party to celebrate the Grammy Awards at Spring Studios in New York City on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Dina Litovsky for W Magazine.

Mark Wystrach of Midland arrives at Universal Music Group’s 2018 After Party to celebrate the Grammy Awards at Spring Studios in New York City on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Dina Litovsky for W Magazine.

Laurent Bourgeois arrives at Universal Music Group’s 2018 After Party to celebrate the Grammy Awards at Spring Studios in New York City on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Dina Litovsky for W Magazine.

Luke James arrives at Universal Music Group’s 2018 After Party to celebrate the Grammy Awards at Spring Studios in New York City on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Dina Litovsky for W Magazine.

Young Paris arrives at Universal Music Group’s 2018 After Party to celebrate the Grammy Awards at Spring Studios in New York City on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Dina Litovsky for W Magazine.

Jessie Reyez arrives at Universal Music Group’s 2018 After Party to celebrate the Grammy Awards at Spring Studios in New York City on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Photo by Dina Litovsky for W Magazine.

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