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  • Writer's pictureWill Scarbrough

Review: KSI: In Real Life

This 90-minute documentary will follow KSI as he embarks on the biggest year of his career so far.

With over 35 million subscribers, KSI, aka Olajide Olatunji or ‘JJ’ for short, is one of the most influential online stars of his generation. At just 28 years old, his videos have been watched more than eight billion times, he has built an online following across gaming, boxing, music and his raucous adventures with the Sidemen.

With the release of his #1 second album, preparation for his sold-out European tour and a headline show at Wembley, it’s the biggest year of his career so far. Through this intimate documentary we will take the audience inside the world of a global star as he transcends the online world he dominates to become one of this generations most talked about performing artists and prove to his critics that he's here to stay.

KSI, Deji, Randolph, SX & his parents.

KSI: In Real Life is as deep as JJ has been teasing. KSI is an internet phenomenon, whether you like him or not, it’s hard to ignore the incredible achievements throughout the past 10 years. But what the public don’t see are the things between the lines, the mental health, the trauma & lack of love from his parents. He was never as close as the people, the audience imagined and it’s explored incredibly well here.

Wes Pollitt, working under Louis Theroux, does a magnificent job at “character work” in this. While I do find the documentary to be rather bland in visuals & lacking much of a style or personality. Which should be present because JJ is such a “character”, I think the documentary should have reflected that through editing. The development that we see in JJ is as clear as day & Wes’ ability to weave in an overarching theme was quite brilliant. It often felt as though I was watching fiction, seeing character development and an arc happen in real time. JJ faces his past & realises how much his past has affected him today and I found that to be quite heartbreaking. Especially coming from a fan of his for 10 years.

Mental health & trauma is a theme in this and it’s bound to reach a lot of people. This documentary tells you that Mental health can’t be ignored or pushed to the side, forgotten about. It has to be tackled head on & to face your past, to move on further into your future. This is a realisation that JJ has throughout the year. His development and mentality is inspiring and grounded, reaching towards the audience to feel a sense of relatability.

I do think the documentary takes a little while to get going, it’s rather slow & uninteresting to begin with. But as we start to realise what’s happening beneath the surface and what we are building to, it becomes a lot more engaging and surprisingly emotional.

JJ’s lack of love that he hadn’t received during his childhood resulted in the creation of KSI. JJ was introverted and struggled for confidence. Until he created KSI, a character he could appear on on camera to be someone he isn’t. The character of KSI meant he could bond with his parents online, appearing to be a happy family, but when the cameras cut. That was never the case. KSI took over and his lack of love meant no one told him any different. But realising his past today, we realised KSI wasn’t just a character, it was a coping mechanism for a lot of sadness. KSI left us years ago.

Overall, I found KSI: In Real Life to be a deeply interesting and emotional documentary, diving deeper into JJ than we’ve seen before. It sometimes plays as a movie, providing us real time development, with a perfect conclusion that is both inspiring and compelling. However, besides it’s character work, the documentary itself is rather uninteresting to look at and edited in a rather simple way. But that can be easily ignored due to how strong a lot of the stuff is in here.

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