Yung Lean: In My Head is a documentary about the titular Swedish rapper. The film chronicles the rise of Lean, the subsequent issues his fame brought, and where his career may now be headed. It follows much of the standard musician documentary formula. But is it different enough from others to attract more than just fans of Lean?
The first part of the film serves as an introduction for those who are not familiar with Lean. Long time fans will enjoy much of the personal footage shown. For everyone else, it will come off as an extended trailer. This gives the early part of In My Head an unfocused feel. It jumps around from Lean’s early life, to his Sadboys crew, to concert clips, to ruminations about fame. This changes about twenty minutes in when the narrative switches to Lean breaking big in America.
Things still tend to veer off course, but there is more focus to In My Head. The doc begins to focus on Lean’s first foray to the United States This includes even more concert footage and talk of his collaborations with musicians like Frank Ocean. At this point, there a an obvious divided is in the film. The portions that delve into Lean are far outnumbered by concert footage. There are lots of talking heads, but few add to the overall film.
In My Head’s emotional climax occurs as Lean is recording in Miami. It is the normal tale of drugs, addiction, and death. This moment has been built up the entire film and those who are unfamiliar with Lean like myself will be surprised by what happens. It is here that the film opens up more emotionally. It is becomes more than just a story about young fame and explores the line between celebrity and imagination.
This does not last too long as the documentary quickly goes back to clips and voiceovers. This does not make In My Head bad, but it is disappointing considering how much time is spent on the meaning behind his lyrics. (It is also funny when during a particularly introspective moment, the song being played contains the cringe inducing lyrics, “When I drink, I drink too much”.)
The haphazard look to In My Head may have been the best way to make a documentary about Yung Lean. He started as a YouTube sensation and his earliest works seem to draw from random bits of American pop culture. It would only make sense for a film about him to be as chaotic. The flip side is it gives little insight to anyone who wants to learn more about the musician. Much like most documentaries about musicians, this is strictly for fans.
Yung Lean: In My Head opens on VOD and digital platforms January 18
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