Review: 'Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry' offers uneven look at global popstar
Courtesy of Apple TV+
At age 19, Billie Eilish – or her legal name: Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell - has accomplished more in five years than what some musicians don’t in their entire careers. Her debut studio album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” roared up the Billboard charts, and the song “Bad Guy'' was a monstrous anthem you couldn’t run away from. She’s won five Grammys (all in one night) and will someday be heard in the James Bond flick “No Time to Die.” This type of chart-topping success story is perfect fodder for documentarian RJ Cutler who followed Eilish over the last two years. But his film: “Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry” plays more like a greatest hits’ album than a deep dive into the infamous singer. Though engaging, Eilish’s signature flair never becomes fully realized throughout the nearly two-and-a-half hour flick. It’s scattershot approach, pieced with snippets of songwriting sessions alongside brother/partner Finneas O’Connell and touring montages, only touches the surface of an already bonkers career trajectory. It won’t matter to fans of the singer, who will devour anything with her blessing, but those of us looking for substance are sidelined.
For a movie that clocks at 140 minutes, “The World’s a Little Blurry” surprisingly runs smooth, but once the credits rolled, it came across more akin to a glorified concert movie than an understanding of where Eilish is headed. Quickly brushing over how Eilish and O’Connell rose to fame in 2015 with their debut song “Ocean Eyes” via SoundCloud, which secured them a record deal with Interscope, “Blurry” offers plenty of fast facts but doesn’t dig beneath the surface. Cutler interjects testimony from the sibling’s parents throughout the movie and their disbelief with the quickness in their kid’s stardom is wholesome but doesn’t offer much insight. Later, when Eilish is touring and suffers an ankle sprain, it’s a point that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. No doctors’ visits or even the slightest hint of how Eilish is coping with a potentially tour-ending injury.
Most of “The World’s a Little Blurry” focuses on two major events: Coachella and the “Fall Asleep” tour – though one could make the case that Eilish meeting her childhood crush, Justin Bieber, proves just as groundbreaking. Cutler is a fly on the wall during these intimate backstage moments. He catches Eilish chatting with Katy Perry and husband Orlando Bloom; technical malfunctions which threaten an entire performance; and a record label after-party where she’s forced to interact with a group of big-wigs against her will, which triggers aspects of her Tourette’s – yet another personal aspect Cutler leaves on the cutting room floor.
What some people do forget, which Cutler captures, is that Eilish is still a teenager and any normal component of life is now tarnished due to fame. Cutler isn’t an amateur and the best thing his film does is capture Eilish’s determination to create a memorable experience for her fans. We watch the popstar shed tears because her biggest fear is delivering a subpar performance and it's nothing if not heartbreaking. Eilish wants to consistently outdo herself and the dynamic shared with O’Connell hits a few soft spots, but it’s the singer’s resilience that ultimately brings “The World’s a Little Blurry” into focus.
BILLIE EILISH: THE WORLD’S A LITTLE BLURRY debuts on APPLE TV+ Friday, February 26th