Saturday, August 14, 2021

REVIEW: Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry

In one particularly noteworthy scene in R.J. Cutler's revelatory documentary "Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry", a roundtable of journalists interview the film's titular wunderkind about her craft. When they comment on the dark undertones of her music, she replies "I'm never feeling happy so why would I write about things I don't know about?" Eilish's response is hardly surprising for anyone familiar with the stylistic choices surrounding her music, fashion and overall persona. But throughout this impressive 2 hours 20 minute journey through her blossoming career thus far, Cutler deftly reveals far more than what is immediately perceptible from her carefully curated public image.

The film opens with Eilish explaining the source of her creativity, acknowledging the great influence of her artistically minded parents' who guided her and her brother to explore their musical interests. This proves to be an ideal starting point, as the parental duo - Maggie Baird and Patrick O'Connell - are shown to be a grounding, supportive presence as Eilish lives out her dreams on the road and in the studio. As she experiences highs and lows on her journey to historic multi-Grammy winning success, "Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry" unveils a fascinating cinematic portrait of an extraordinary young woman.

Indeed, if you weren't a fan before, "Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry" should surely pique your interest. The film's intimacy gives us an up close and personal look at her creative process (primarily with her producer brother in the humble confines of her own childhood home and bedroom) and the incredible impact of her music on fans worldwide. As with many similarly famous artists, the pressure is evidently overwhelming, exacerbated by the increased visibility and scrutiny of social media. 

In addition to Cutler's discerning direction, "Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry" also benefits from Eilish's own candid honesty about her inner feelings and outlook. Through her revealing interviews, the film stands out as a truly contemporary work, exploring her concerns surrounding ever-changing political correctness and the associated fears of disappointing her fans in the future. As she expresses these and other feelings of insecurity and self-doubt - verbally and through her body language - the film captures the vulnerabilities that inform the more depressive aspects of her personality.

During the aforementioned journalist roundtable hints towards her experiences with depression and suicidal thoughts. But while Eilish claims that she's "never happy", Cutler paints a more complex picture of this uncommonly self-possessed teenager. From her exuberant on-stage performances, to her heartwarming adoration of Justin Bieber, to her obvious passion for life, friends and music, there's a beautifully humanizing quality to this biographical documentary. In showcasing Billie Eilish's talent and the many facets of her character, it's the type of illuminating music documentary that I would highly recommend.