Billie Eilish is the world’s coolest teenager. She has almost 77 million Instagram followers, one of the best-selling albums of 2019, a number one hit in the Billboard 100, five Grammy’s, and a James Bond theme song under her belt. Framed with neon lights, performances of Eilish’s biggest hits, and moving monologues, The World’s A Little Blurry captures an intimate and personal look inside an unconventional coming of age story: becoming one of the world’s biggest stars before the age of eighteen.
Documentary filmmaker R.J. Cutler doesn’t sit down with Billie to tell us her story, but rather sits passively by as the story naturally unfolds itself. The camera observes instead of narrating. It tracks the making of her studio debut album that changed her life, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? almost entirely recorded from Eilish’s brother, Finneas’s bedroom in their childhood home. In between shows and interviews, viewers get candid discussions of mental health, Eilish’s hyper-awareness of social media, and injuries she’s sustained over the years while performing.
The film doesn’t feature flashy, fast-paced montages or surreal shots portraying Eilish on a pedestal in front of millions of fans. Instead, it focuses on the mundane with raw footage of what the rise to superstardom entails when you still live in the same house you grew up in and are about to perform at Coachella. At times, the documentary’s lengthy run time of two hours and a half is noticeable but every single scene is crucial to Billie Eilish’s story.
Although Eilish is the subject, Blurry also feels like a family portrait. “Our family was just one big fucking song,” she says as she recalls her childhood and musical upbringing. Her mother was a teacher and her father a construction worker but both had endeavors in music and acting which fostered a creative atmosphere in their home in Los Angeles. Touring becomes a family affair as the whole clan accompanies Eilish all around the world, not just because she was a minor at the time but also for support and guidance. Even with her family and team being heavily involved in her life, Eilish maintains a huge amount of agency and autonomy over her career. It was comforting to know that she is able to call the shots as we see her own artistic vision directing her music videos, recording, and performing.
If Billie Eilish’s life were a sitcom, Justin Biber would be a fan favorite recurring character. He first appears as her childhood obsession and then as a collaborator on the hit’s bad guy remix. “Justin Bieber, right? When I was like twelve, I was not a fan of him. That was, like, my first love,” she says. “That was the person I was in love with. In my head, he was in love with me.” She later meets him at Coachella and with panicking disbelief she is cradled by Bieber in his arms as she sobs, a true depiction of the wild things that happen when dreams come true. Eilish’s emotional and relatable fangirl moments remind us that stars… they’re just like us!
What is usually a promotional tool, documentaries about pop stars should take notes from this one since it proves that delving into the normalcy and day-to-day hardships of a celebrity is far more interesting than relying on confessionals and concert footage. The World’s A Little Blurry ends with a promise that Billie Eilish is going to stick around and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry is out in theaters and available to stream on AppleTV+