Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry is an in-depth look at the life of the Grammy-winning artist on her journey into global stardom and the making of her first album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? The documentary, directed by filmmaker R.J. Cutler (The War Room, Nashville), focuses on the inner-workings of Billie’s life from her career to her personal life and struggles with her mental health. It also explores the ideas surrounding celebrity and the toxicity of the industry and how it can impact those involved in it. Before I get into anything, I will say I’d place a giant TW stamp on part of it for suicidal thoughts/self harm. I won’t be going into that in the review, but just for those who may appreciate the warning it does get a bit candid during a part of the film that I thought was important to mention.
When I first heard the news break that this documentary was going to be released, I was excited. I have loved Billie since don’t smile at me was released, and have been following her career throughout the past few years. That being said, I didn’t think that this documentary would be as emotional or introspective as it was. In the recent years, there’s been an uptick of documentaries on musicians often focusing on their lives during a tour or creating an album and while they have been enjoyable and entertaining, they very rarely scratch the surface on the actual realities of the person involved. They show the struggles of being on the road and missing home, or of the pressure of having to constantly perform, but they don’t really delve into the mental state or impact this lifestyle can have on a person. This documentary is so much more, offering a true look at not only what celebrity means and can feel like, but also how tumultuous it is just to be growing up as a teenager in this society. It’s often easy to forget that Billie was a teenager for the majority of her career thus far – she looks older, has acted maturely in the public eye, and consistently sounds well above her years – but this takes that perspective and flips it off of “Billie Eilish: the artist” and turns it to “Billie: a teenage girl in America”. It just happens that she’s also simultaneously living a life many of us could only dream of.
While the film has a lengthy duration (2h20), it doesn’t feel long at all. It intermingles her album, tour, personal life, and career seamlessly so you never feel as though there’s something that could have been left out. Her personality shines through in this documentary in a way that feels incredibly authentic. She feels almost as if she’s a friend or somebody you know in your own life, opposed to some celebrity playing a part to seem relatable. Cutler did a great job of filtering through all the madness to really get down to the essence of who she is and both the highs and lows she experiences over the time of filming. Obviously recognizing that unless you actually know somebody in real life you don’t really know them personally, this film does it’s job to open up that door a little more for the general public. There will be many people who see this doc and recognize themselves in Billie, particularly those who consider themselves artists. Her self-doubt, self-criticism and personal expectations are something that all of us can recognize in ourselves. It was refreshing to see somebody who is generally deemed successful also experiencing these very human feelings.
While this film is definitely made for the fans, I think there’s something greater here that everybody can appreciate. The entire duration of the film is a strong example of how we never really understand what another person is going through and a reminder to treat others with kindness whenever possible. Particularly in terms of Hollywood, there’s a fascination of those living this lifestyle that is very much characterized as the “American Dream”. In that, the world has taken this turn where those we watch on a screen or through social media are somehow less human and are instead free game for our judgement or criticism. While a job in the public eye obviously comes with some degree of responsibility, at the end of the day even our favourite artists and creators are just like us: human. People are quick to judge based off of snippets of an interaction or somebody’s life (celebrity or not) and sometimes we need a reminder that one moment does not always make a person. We all have days that are good and bad, but the difference is when i’m having a bad day I can hang out in my own room and just relax whereas others have to go out and put on an entire act for millions of people. My hope for this movie is that the fans get what they want out of it and more, which they will, and that all of the people who see it will maybe think twice before writing something hateful and putting it online. The old adage “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” is riddled with problematic connotations but in this case, I think it stands. Sometimes, silence is the better (and kinder) option.
This gave me quite a bit to think about and I can promise you I have more to delve into on the subject, but for now, go stream Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry on AppleTV+. You won’t regret it.