Ed Sheeran The Sum of it All Review: Insightful Yet Saddening

May 1, 2023

Disney Plus has peeled back the curtain on singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran as this documentary opens your eyes but not in the positive and uplifting way the press release would have me believe. Here’s our Ed Sheeran The Sum of it All review.

Follows Sheeran’s personal life as he discusses how this trying time has affected him and his new music. It will spotlight how an unlikely child with a stutter rose to fame and how his chart-topping hits were born
This brand new four-part docuseries debuts on Disney Plus on May 3rd as the show explores the rise of a child with a stutter to stardom, chart-topping hits and selling out arenas but all is not the glitz and glam it seems. 
In each episode, Ed faces themes and emotions that most people experience. Ed expresses his deeper thoughts as he reassesses life and explores what he thinks of the world, of himself and how this difficult time has influenced him and his new music. Let’s dive in with this Ed Sheeran The Sum of it All review.
Credit – Sofi Adams
The Sum of it All really is a fly-on-the-wall documentary with no stone left unturned but if you’re expecting an uplifting inspiring documentary it flickers, it really does, with the main documentary focusing on Ed’s personal life during a very rough period in his life.
The loss of Jamal Edwards, Ed’s best friend is etched deeply into the fibres of each episode as we see a man clearly grieving for his friend. Having the cameras on at this moment of his life is a very questionable area for me, it almost feels too personal, and it feels like we shouldn’t be watching it. 
Credit – Mark Surridge
Whilst I respect Ed for being so open and honest with the camera and letting us into this deeper part of his personality I still feel as though I shouldn’t be watching it. Showing the world he’s more than just this music-making machine, we do see Ed the human being but it’s at a time in his life when the documentary isn’t portraying positivity too heavily. It’s a very saddening thing to watch but how Ed pays tribute to his friend and the love and respect he has for Jamal shines through.
Discussing the loss in detail in tears, discussing his wife’s cancer diagnosis whilst pregnant with their second child and the clear strain that touring has on their marriage is quite a tough watch. It must be so difficult to strike that balance between work and family especially when record labels demand so much of their artists with worldwide tours. 
Credit – Sofi Adams
Tours that for the most part seem like lonely places to be. Playing a huge stadium crowd to then find yourself alone in a backstage room somewhere was yet another quite tough thing to watch. A showman on stage so alone, away from his family knowing every moment apart missing his children growing up is eating away at him. Suffering from the loss of a great friend whilst being surrounded by this loneliness was tough to watch.
With Ed’s close friends making an appearance later in the documentary it was nice to see that he isn’t always alone and that was a decision made later in his career. He wants his friends around him because of the aforementioned reasons that plagued his early touring career and here and there positivity makes a breakthrough through the clear pain we see Ed in throughout this documentary.
I have an immense amount of respect for a man who can wear his heart on his sleeve and allow something like this to be released but I just feel the timing is a little off. The Disney press release discusses an uplifting and inspiring documentary but it doesn’t feel like this for large portions. I admire Ed’s incredible talent and admire his rise to stardom but it’s come with many sacrifices.
Ed has always admitted to being very guarded in his personal and private life and whilst he’s opened the door for us to see the beauty we’re also surrounded by the sadness.
The love that he and Cherry share is a beautiful thing to be a part of but in the next scene you can see the things they have been through together making them stronger yet the tolls of touring are always there in both of their minds.
It’s hard to be inspired by the documentary when it’s clearly having an effect on every aspect of Ed’s life but there is inspiration to be found in his musical genius, songwriting and the sudden rise to fame that Ed achieved.
Credit – Mark Surridge
Saying that instead of the usual one gig per week that other musicians were doing he was doing 3 shows a night. That work ethic to do more and achieve more was definitely the inspirational side of the documentary yet throughout all of the four episodes you really have to dig around to find that uplifting spirit, it’s in there, you just need to look a little harder.
This is an Ed Sheeran that no one has really seen before. It’s authentic and personal and you can see the dark sides and the light sides of his life that really show through in his songwriting. A truly beautiful human with a beautiful soul but I felt more sad watching it than anything else.
Privacy is something everyone deserves and with Ed’s level of fame, I feel as though that level of privacy will never come. It’s almost heartbreaking in a way but at the same time it’s the price of fame, isn’t it? 
Jamal was the reason for Ed’s success and from start to finish Jamal is there alongside Ed in his docuseries journey making his mark. His infectious laugh and the way they instantly bonded is such a great thing to witness. Friendship is eternal and I thought this was told so beautifully from start to finish.
Credit – Sofi Adams
Split into Love, Loss, Balance and Life the 4 episodes combine for a truly breathtaking docuseries quite unlike anything I’ve seen before. We swap glitz and glamour for family life and the struggles of touring. We swap money and award bragging for friendship and family. 
I can’t think of a more genuine person out there in the celebrity world than Ed. I haven’t spoken a word to the man once in my life but you just know there’s no arrogance there, there’s no ego, what you see is what you get and you certainly get to see that with this series. It’s just a shame it’s at a low point in Ed’s life when this was shot but it’s in our darkest times when you really get to know someone and well, the documentary certainly did that.
The singer’s new album, Subtract, is set to drop two days later on 5th May so the documentary arrives just in time on Disney Plus for you to all enjoy then jump on the album bandwagon. The pressures of an artist who (in my opinion) hasn’t written a bad song to date is on full display as one day the world may move on to something else. A fear Ed discusses in the documentary with his wife.
Credit – Sofi Adams
It’s things like this that you just don’t see in many big-star documentaries. This Ed Sheeran The Sum of it All review wasn’t easy to discuss just as much as it wasn’t (at times) easy to watch but it’s necessary to discover who Ed is as a person.
Amazingly insightful but equally saddening Ed fans are going to love him even more and everyone else is going to have a much deeper respect for Ed the human as opposed to Ed the artist.
Well done Disney, well done.
Ed Sheeran The Sum of it All Review by Sean Evans

Our Rating

A heart on your sleeve documentary that showcases Ed the human being as opposed to Ed the music-making machine. With doses of inspiration the documentary timing feels a little off in terms of seeing the struggle Ed is clearly going through within these episodes but it’s an interesting watch for fans and a generic audience all the same and has deepened my respect and appreciation for this wonderful human being.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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