Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Movie: Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry

Where You Can Stream It: Apple TV+

The Pitch: Taking a deeply personal look at the extraordinary singer Billie Eilish, director R.J. Cutler follows her journey on the road, on stage, and at home with her family, as the writing and recording of her debut album changes her life and turns her into one of the biggest pop stars of the decade.

Why It’s Essential Viewing: There’s a good chance you know Billie Eilish from her hit single “Bad Guy” or from being recruited to write the theme song for the next James Bond movie No Time to Die (a feat for which she just won a Grammy). But the Apple TV+ documentary Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry paints a portrait more thorough and revealing than any music documentary that I’ve ever seen. This isn’t just a standard chronicle of the behind-the-scenes happenings while Billie Eilish records an album and tours the world. It’s an intimate, in-depth look at the creative process of this quiet but powerful musical force, the pressure that comes with fame at such a young age, and how the love of a family and a genuine, artistic approach to music keeps a pop star as grounded as possible.

While the documentary uses the standard glimpses behind-the-scenes of concerts, musical performances, and publicity appearances, the film gets a big boost from footage that was shot by Billie Eilish’s family. Since she started growing an impressive online following before she became a Grammy-winning artist, she and her brother were constantly recording brainstorming sessions, their time spent recording songs, and many more candid and silly moments. Eilish’s parents also caught many big moments on camera themselves, just like any family might record home movies of vacations or birthdays.

In music, Billie Eilish stands out because of the quiet, haunting and beautiful voice she uses to drive her emotional, macabre songs that some have labeled as being almost anti-pop. She and her brother Finneas O’Connell create infectious beats and catchy melodies, but they’re hardly uplifting or upbeat. But in life, these are the songs of a teenager working through depression, struggling with complex emotional issues, and a being open about her general feeling of not really being okay most of the time. That’s exactly why so many faces can be seen in the crowds of her concerts with tears streaming down their faces as they sing along to these melancholic tunes.

That’s not to say the documentary is full of sadness. There are a number of lighthearted moments to be seen throughout. Billie and Finneas have such a playful relationship, and watching them work is like hanging out with two best friends. Plus, you can’t help but giggle as Eilish comes to terms with the fact that her childhood crush Justin Bieber reaches out and express his love for her music, asks to collaborate with her, and then meets up with her at Coachella. The way Eilish reacts like a total fangirl is adorable and delightful.

It’s easy to brush off celebrity woes when you think that being rich and famous can easily solve problems. In reality, it can make it a lot worse. That’s why it’s so refreshing to see Billie Eilish and her family still living in a modest surburban house that looks as chaotic inside as any random neighbor’s house. Her parents provide a strong backbone to keep her grounded, and they’re also in the midst of figuring out the hurdles of fame while also trying to raise their teenage daughter. It helps to keep Eilish’s feet on the ground as she deal with all the trials and tribulations of being a depressed teen and living her life in the spotlight. The singer even struggles with Tourette Syndrome that manifests itself in physical tics that come out when she feels a lot of stress, not to mention an old dance injury that creates serious problems for her on-stage performances.

Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry is one of the most earnest and meaningful music documentaries I’ve ever seen. It cuts through all the publicity bullshit and digs into the personal life of a a young woman who has barely started to live her life, both as a pop star and as a person. It’s a revealing look at the price of modern fame, the impressive voice and mind of a talented musician, and everything that goes into keeping her head on her shoulders as she navigates a life that is simultaneously a nightmare and a dream.

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