The 400-Word Review - Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry
By Sean Collier
February 26, 2021
Rarely does a tale of success feel so much like a tragedy.
“Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry,” a comprehensive documentary of the young artist’s career, is nominally about the contrast between life as a typical teenager and unfathomable success. Eilish, for example, completes the recording process on an album that would earn armfuls of Grammy Awards, then has a humble 17th birthday party at a nearby ice-skating rink. She celebrates earning her learner’s permit — and then buys her dream car, a matte-black Dodge Challenger.
These sequences are interesting and occasionally charming. That’s not, however, what sticks out to me about director R.J. Cutler’s film. The fascinating aspect is unintentional: “The World’s a Little Blurry” feels like a chronicle of a breakdown in the making, with all the constituent elements of a “Behind the Music” tale of young stardom leading to adult struggles.
“You guys need to be okay,” Eilish tells a crowd, “because y’all are the reason I’m okay.” It doesn’t feel like a put-on, just as the somber, often macabre content of her lyrics feels genuine. Eilish, both in this documentary and elsewhere, is frank about struggles with depression as well as an anxiety-inducing list of physical ailments (an injury suffered as a teenage dancer left her with occasional mobility issues, even before her 18th birthday).
Meanwhile, a galaxy of figures surround the star, arguing about what’s best — and how to manage and handle her. Her brother, collaborator and producer, Finneas O’Connell, talks about trying to get Eilish to record a radio-friendly hit without letting her know she’s working on something commercial, lest she turn against the project. Friends spar with Eilish’s parents over lyrical content. Label representatives weigh in. Handlers rush the exhausted singer to meet-and-greet sessions, where she’s terrified she’ll appear disinterested and provoke online ire.
As we know from other music-industry tales, these are the ingredients for later struggles. The timing is fitting; “The World’s a Little Blurry” debuts as the life and mental health of Britney Spears is once again in the discourse, highlighting the perils of mega-fame at a young age.
On its surface, this is a movie about Eilish’s considerable skills and remarkable success. There is plenty here for fans (and I do mean plenty; the movie runs 140 minutes), including breathtaking performances. I only hope this doesn’t become a film looked at, retrospectively, as a warning sign.
My Rating: 6/10
“Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry” is streaming on Apple TV+.