There comes a time in every musician’s career when releasing a documentary chronicling their lives is inevitable. We’ve seen it with just about every pop star in the industry. The likes of Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and many more artists have all had a documentary chronicling their life at a specific time. Usually, these documentaries serve as promotions for an album or an upcoming tour. Yet, something is different about Billie Eilish’s The World’s a Little Blurry. Eilish has not yet begun promoting her new album and she recently canceled the rest of her tour. This documentary is not selling viewers anything, it only exists to give us a look into the meteoric rise of the Billie Eilish. We see her at her best, her worst, and everything in between.
The film opens with Billie and her brother/collaborator Finneas celebrating that their SoundCloud hit, “Ocean Eyes” was played on a local radio station. In retrospect of all her accomplishments, it seems so small. You are reminded that it wasn’t too long ago that she was just a regular teenage girl trying to make it into the music industry. We see her surrounded by her family and celebrating one of her first big milestones to stardom. The film then fast-forwards to three years later, when Eilish is performing at a show. It is an inspiring moment to see where she started and to see how far she’s come in such a short time.
For a lot of the documentary, you wouldn’t know that Eilish received a record deal and was working on an album that would take the world by storm. We see her discuss the title she wants for the album (which comes to fruition), music video ideas (which she successfully shoots), and songs that she is having trouble finishing. She isn’t in some record executive’s office or a big fancy music studio, she’s in her brother’s bedroom. It further reinforces this idea that Billie Eilish isn’t the sole star of this documentary. Her family is just as much the stars of it as she is. Without their support, who knows where she’d be.
Authenticity is Key
Billie Eilish has stayed authentic since the first moment she came on the scene. The documentary is no exception to this. We see the raw and uncut interactions she has with the people around her. There are moments where we see the tension between her and Finneas regarding the direction of the album. For example, there’s a scene where Finneas is trying to convince Billie to make an “accessible” song. The argument comes to a head when Finneas goes and vents to their mother, that Billie is being difficult and she is refusing to attempt to make a “hit” song. Billie, overhearing the conversation, comes in and questions why must her music be “accessible” and easily-digestible for everyone. It is a problem many artists deal with (especially at the beginning of their career) and seeing Billie being so sure of her music is a comforting sight.
During a time when celebrities have such carefully curated public personas, Billie displays her contradictions for everyone. She talks about how she never makes music to specifically talk about a subject. She just writes what she’s feeling at the moment. Later when she becomes an icon for teens going through the same things as her, she is happy to be the voice for them. When talking about drug use, someone mentions to Billie that she shouldn’t make any hard stances on drug-use because if she ever changes her mind, people will use her previous words against her. Her mother fights back against this idea by saying that people change and no one can nor should carefully choose their words in fear of them being used against them years later.
Billie’s Mental Health
Billie never shies away from what she’s feeling. The documentary also touches on her mental space being a teen in such a difficult time. Billie discusses her love for dance and the injury that forced her to stop. After the injury, she lost one of the most important things in her life. She talks about how she was depressed for a long time after that and had no real motivation to do anything. She even goes as far as to say she never thought she’d make it to eighteen years old. Quite possibly the most moving scene in the documentary comes when Billie is confronted by her mother about her thoughts of suicide. All of the layers of Hollywood, the music business, and celebrity are peeled back, and we see a mother concerned for her daughter. It is a gut-wrenching scene, but I am happy it is in the film.
Just a Normal Girl
Billie Eilish may be a larger-than-life talent, but she doesn’t act as she knows it. She is just like everyone else, she is self-conscious, afraid of being a social outcast, and irrational fear of failure. In a lot of ways, she is a reflection of our generation. Perhaps that is why she resonates with so many of us. When watching the documentary, it doesn’t feel like you are watching an international superstar navigate fame, you see a seventeen-year-old girl. You see her freak out that Katy Perry has even heard of her and kick herself for not recognizing Orlando Bloom.
I’m sure many fans can completely relate to the feeling of being enamored with a celebrity that they will surely never meet. The difference with Billie is that she gets to meet her celebrity. It is a moment that everyone on the internet got to share with her. During Coachella weekend, she finally meets her first love, Justin Bieber. It’s a heart-warming moment that again reminds viewers, Billie is who she is. She doesn’t try to act cool when she sees her idol, she completely clams up and is left speechless.
The World Becomes Clear
Billie Eilish has just started, she has only released one album, yet she has accomplished so much. She has become a voice for her generation. Eilish knows how they feel and she can perfectly depict it in her music better than anyone else making music right now. But that isn’t the only thing we learn from this documentary. In a time when many young artists are thrown into the business with no guidance and ultimately fail because of the people surrounding them, Eilish has her family standing behind her. We can rest easy knowing that when Billie strays, she has people behind her to bring her back to where she needs to be.