Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry review – an insightful if overlong documentary baddddddddddd guy

February 26, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Apple TV+, Film Reviews
3.5

Summary

A candid documentary that sometimes falters a little thanks to an overlong runtime.

3.5

Summary

A candid documentary that sometimes falters a little thanks to an overlong runtime.

About halfway through R.J. Cutler’s intensive new documentary about the rapid rise to mega-stardom of young, eccentric pop star Billie Eilish, I thought that perhaps we’d see her retire before it was finished. That’s as much a commentary on the subject’s temperamental nature as it is a lamentation about the film’s length. But blimey, it’s long. Two hours and twenty minutes seem a lot of time to spend on any subject, much less the career of someone barely old enough to drive. Surely, I thought, she can’t have done this much in such a short space of time. Of course, she did, which is why the film, despite its length, is an important unpacking of the rigours of fame, the artistic process, and the demands both things have on an individual who, despite obvious and plentiful support, seems all too young to be carrying such a weight on her shoulders.

If the pace sags now and again, then, that’s to be expected, but the good stuff is well worth the price of admission. Eilish, from her staunch anti-drugs and anti-smoking stance to her unique fashion sense, utter rejection of the expectations placed on young women in the industry, and the fact she still makes music in her brother’s bedroom, is a fascinating artist. Hearing the bit-by-bit formation of songs like “Bad Guy” that have since become major hits is not just pulling back the curtain but revealing the humblest of settings behind it; a quaint family home so down to earth in its atmosphere that when Billie finally gets the car of her dreams and parks it outside, it seems out of place.

Central to Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry, and indeed her career, is her relationship with her brother, Finneas, with whom she frequently disagrees creatively but also shares a profound bond that radiates through every scene they share together — which is a lot. Discussions of a song’s themes or a hook’s lyrics give way to child-like bickering, giggling, and playing. Doting, level-headed parents complete the image of a family thrust from relative obscurity into chart-topping global celebrity, but they all deal admirably with the pressure, at least most of the time.

It’s Eilish who lends the film a distinct sense of pain that is at times quite moving, though it’s hard to point the finger at her success since one gets the sense she was probably always like that. She clearly thinks deeply and at times agonizingly about everything from what she wants her music to represent to an imagined love story with Justin Bieber, which is confirmed by a video she plays of her at twelve years of age, fretting about not being able to love her future boyfriend in the same way as her musical idol. Very few kids that age think like that, and the pressure Eilish puts on herself seems comparable to — or perhaps greater than — the pressures exerted on her by the demands of fame and success.

All this gives Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry a much stronger sense of intimacy and at times invasiveness than something like Miss Americana. It’s both a gift and a curse at times, but it makes the film a must-see for fans and an eye-opening coming-of-age story for everyone else.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.