Over black-and-footage, Niall Horan and Harry Styles stand on the X Factor stage, replaying their performance in their heads. Every second feels like an hour for the judges to speak.
Standing by a tan building, Styles steps out of the now four-man group. He gestures a lot, questioning why had Malik had to leave. The band, excited to have the won the show, huddles in a group hug. A proud Simon Cowell beams with pride. The band smile for the press. Thousands of fans cheer. Styles blinks from all the flashes. On the tour bus, they sit together and goof off.
Horan steps up next. Five years ago, he pretended to be a model. The band laughed together and helped each other get through photo shoots. Currently, he puts his thumbs in his pockets. The situation is what it is. In the black-and-white footage, Malik wraps his arm around Tomlinson’s neck, grinning.
The rest of the band joins Tomlinson. They clap to the music. Outside a hotel, Tomlinson has a foghorn. He sees the fans, who are taking photos on their phones. They surround the car and hold up signs. On a plane, Horan caresses Tomlinson’s cheek. Tomlinson pulls him close. In a car, Styles smiles, his arm on the armrest. Tomlinson twirls a microphone. During a rehearsal, the band runs on stage. At a concert, teenage girls cheer watching the opening montage.
Liam Payne realizes it was time for Malik to go and has accepted it. Five years ago, Payne, shirtless, practices his punching before eating. It’s how he and Horan became best friends. Styles falls asleep on the couch, a humongous stuffed teddy bear as his pillow.
The band takes a couple of steps toward the camera. Together, they made a lot of memories. Horan puts his arm around Malik. They would surf while on vacation. Tomlinson got to see some exotic animals.
Payne steps up, wistful as he mouths the lyrics. While bored at the hotel, they would grab the rack that would hold their luggage, which is a reused clip from “Perfect.” They would visit the tattoo artists in various cities. They appeared on television shows and did promotional shoots wearing beachwear. But it was their friendship that mattered, as Payne hugs Styles from behind.
The band forms a kickline, doing jazz hands. They had experiences they would never forget. Payne eventually knocks Styles into the bathtub. Styles eats in the tour bus, seeing the world from his window. Payne takes a selfie on a mountain. From outside their window, they view the legions of fans waiting for them. They clap and cheer, grateful for their amazing life. Styles fist pumps Tomlinson at a photo shoot. At the final song at the concert, the band hugs each other, telling each other how awesome it was.
Back at the tan building, the band waves to each other as they go their separate ways.
Malik’s absences is felt. They have all grown up together and without Malik, they don’t feel like a group anymore. With each shot, the band knows it’s getting closer to their last. Once the director says “it’s a wrap,” they are free to go on to do other things. It’s the end of an era. For all the success One Direction had, they deserve to have a proper finale, which they are given. History provides a then-and-now, seeing them having fun and watch their memories one more time.
Director: Ben Winston Year: 2016
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