Photo: Netflix
Before We Vanish by M.G. Mailloux Film

Everybody’s Everything | Sebastian Jones & Ramez Silyan

November 30, 2019

Naturally, there was quite a bit of excitement when it was announced that Terrence Malick would produce a documentary chronicling the life of Lil Peep, but alas, Everybody’s Everything is more directly aligned with recent documentaries Amy and Montage of Heck than, say, Song to Song (which was produced by Sebastian Jones, here co-directing with Ramez Silyan). As with those aforementioned docs, Everybody’s Everything splits its time between archival footage, talking head interviews and musical montage, to trace out the rise and fall of its subject, beloved internet entity and emo-rap cult icon Lil Peep. The early stretches of the film helpfully map out Peep’s early days, providing a definitive biography for an artist whose rise to prominence has previously been challenging to trace. The filmmakers bridge this material with voiceover provided by Peep’s grandfather (Marxist historian/Harvard professor, John Womack), reading from letters that he sent his grandson over the course of his life. These moments suggest the movie that leapt to mind when Malick’s involvement was first announced, and they also just so happen to be where the movie is most affecting.

Otherwise, Everybody’s Everything eventually falters. The filmmakers come up against the question of Peep’s death and bumble into the usual traps that come tethered to projects like this. The project more or less subscribes to the idea that Peep was exploited and enabled by the industry and his management team, but ultimately skews towards a faux-objective perspective, allowing many folks complicit in Peep’s destruction ample time to talk. This sort of perspective-less, “all sides” documentarian style is inevitably boring, and the use of it in this context presents an idea that there isn’t a villain in this story. In reality, Peep’s mother, Liza Womack is suing his management team for negligence, asserting that they played him with drugs to keep him performing, eventually resulting in his overdose. Everybody’s Everything doesn’t shirk away from that possibility entirely, but it doesn’t outright condemn, nor does it want to contend with the true scope and implications of its subject’s death. Enlightening as a summation of Lil Peep’s accomplishments and character, but there is ultimately no deeper understanding to be found.

Published as part of November 2019’s Before We Vanish.