#REVIEW: “BILLIE EILISH: THE WORLD’S A LITTLE BLURRY”
By Mr. Will Wong
We’ve been privileged to witness the meteoric rise of Billie Eilish these past few years, a complex teenager from Los Angeles who has made musical magic with her brother, Finneas. Her haunting vocals possess a depth, wisdom and maturity far beyond her young age. Eilish‘s debut LP When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go garnered six Grammy wins last year and while her theme song for the latest in the Bond franchise No Time To Die, already surfaced last year – and the Film still hasn’t – there’s been an appetite for more and we’re about to get that. R.J. Cutler (The September Issue, If I Stay) gets the assignment chronicling her rise in Documentary, The World’s a Little Blurry.
It is impossible to tell Eilish‘s story without involving those closest to her and that would be her mother Maggie Baird, an Actor and Writer, who has helped steer Eilish on the course to success, traveling with her daughter as she tours the world, homeschooling her even. Cutler brings us up close and intimate and we see that Baird‘s concerns as the mom of a star really aren’t that different from any other mother, stressing about her daughter’s whereabouts as she drives off to West Hollywood by herself just after getting her license. She regrets not having had Eilish download a location-tracking app. Yet the Film captures also that “childboss” dynamic as well, which can be a thing when the child becomes a breadwinner. She apologizes to Eilish for failing to protect her daughter’s best interests when she really didn’t feel like takings pics with a bunch of “randoms”, who were industry key players actually, and their families after a show. In one moment, Baird expresses her sympathy about how tough it is being a teenager right now. She notes how this generation has seen some tough things like a recession, racial inequality, climate change and an opioid crisis, things which somehow have shown-up in some form or another in Eilish‘s art.
Cutler never loses sight of the fact that Eilish still is just a teenager. While we get the sense that she’s maybe too aware of how she’s portraying herself on-camera at times, he captures her baring her soul and at her most vulnerable on-stage as she tries to make it through her track “i love you“, breaking-down to tears before her adoring fans. This just after earlier we see her grapple with a breakup to a boyfriend who couldn’t reciprocate the same enthusiasm she showed him.
Then there’s the other love of her life. Cutler illustrates Eilish‘s success through her relationship with Justin Bieber, whom she idolized at the age of 12. She presents footage at one point of her child-self genuinely worried that she would never love her real-life boyfriend as much as she loved Bieber. And there’s the time they met finally at Coachella and he asks to collaborate with her, and then he was one of the first to video call her on the night of her Grammys sweep. Now, who’s the fan?
While the Film clocks-in at over two hours, its most compelling moments are where we see an Artist at work whether Eilish is recording on a tour bus with Finneas, or she is on-stage injuring herself. She falls apart, puts herself back together and goes back onstage before tens of thousands of screaming fans. We see how deep her insecurities lie when she does a bad take or forgets lyrics, but this also is what pushes her to a standard of craftsmanship which not many Artists ever will achieve in their lifetime. While done well and surely of interest to its intended audience – her legions of fans of all ages – we wish Cutler explored more her thoughts on body image and also fashion, things which have come to define her and matters she has opened a dialog on.
THE WORLD’S A BIT BLURRY arrives on Apple TV+ Thursday, February 25, 2021.