Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry review: Apple TV+ documentary's no holds-barred approach is refreshing
Director RJ Cutler brings some of the most intimate and vulnerable moments from Billie Eilish's life as she records her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?.
"I'd look into the crowd, and I see all these faces. So many different feelings and heartbreak. And every single person in there is going through something good or bad, or horrible or amazing, you know? And the least I can do is make art that I make because I have the same problems," Billie Eilish, who is no average teenager — not by a long shot — says in her Apple TV+ documentary The World's A Little Blurry.
It is the same honesty that drives the RJ Cutler-directed documentary, bringing to fore some of the most intimate and vulnerable moments from Eilish's life as she records her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?. It is refreshing to see a spontaneous and unrehearsed side to a celebrity, to watch their human side. For handling the burden of fame and fragility of adolescence is no easy feat. Recent docs like Taylor Swift's Miss Americana or K-pop group BlackPink's Light Up the Sky barely scratched the surface, only providing a contrived point-of-view.
Cutler goes back to 2018 when Eilish is in the midst of creating the record with brother Finneas at their parents' home in Los Angeles. Their seamlessly harmonious creative process is almost too amazing to be real. There is also the pressure to deliver the first song hits, and the increasing involvement of record executives. Soon her schedule is packed with consecutive live concerts and talk show appearances along with a gnawing album deadline. Add to the mix her loneliness from being on the road, a recurring hip and leg injury that needs constant medical attention, and the stress of it all triggering her Tourette's tic. Her relationship and consequent break-up with ‘Q’ aka rapper 7: AMP, who her mother Maggie Baird — much to my amusement — refers to as "that guy," also takes an immense emotional toll. Eilish almost buckles under pressure, but her family's unwavering support acts as a steadying influence.
So does her meeting with Katy Perry at Coachella, who provides a cautionary warning that the next decade will fly by so quick she will not even remember it. Justin Bieber makes an appearance, providing the much needed sagely advice that can only come from one's lived experience (Bieber's career graph as a teenage popstar is not too dissimilar from Eilish's).
The little moments that connect all major events in The World's A Little Blurry — Eilish revising for a driver's test quiz, an argument with the family about the supposed "inaccessibility" of her music, her joking about her family's choice in cars, and sobbing Bieber's arms when they first meet at Coachella — add even more depth to who Eilish is as a person.
The World's A Little Blurry also touches upon the effect of excessive public scrutiny when a fan accuses her of being cold and disinterested in her interaction with fans. "I literally can't have a bad moment," she tells her team before fuming over being forced to keep up appearances. "I don’t want anyone who knows who I am or is any sort of fan or knows a fan to see me in any sort of awkward situation," and she is not wrong — recovering from any blunders in a social media age is near impossible.
The no-holds barred storytelling approach, along with the juxtaposition of cellphone videos with polished fly-on-the-wall footage, make The World's A Little Blurry an invigorating watch in spite of its long run time. Eilish may be just a brand for record labels and a mythological figure to her millions of fans. But for Cutler's empathetic storyteller eye, she is so much more.
Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry is now streaming on Apple TV+.
All images from Apple TV+.
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