“The World’s a Little Blurry,” a documentary on Billie Eilish directed by R.J. Cutler is one of the most engaging films I’ve seen in a while. The documentary was released Feb. 26 on Apple TV+, after around two years of filming. The film features footage taken by Eilish’s family, coupled with professional documentation to offer an intimate look at the young singer’s rise to stardom and mental health journey during the release of her first album, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”
Eilish produced her first album in her humble childhood home and while on tour with the help of her brother Finneas O’Connell, and the support of her parents Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell. “The World’s a Little Blurry” does a phenomenal job exposing the tight-knit relationship between Eilish and her family. There is something inherently unique about the contribution a parent can make as their young artist grows, as Baird emphasizes in the film. They offer the unconditional support that money can never buy; they can sense the way Eilish feels in a way no one else can.
The documentary featured a particularly notable scene about the demanding world of production. When discussing the release of “xanny,” a song about Eilish’s disdain for drugs and similar self-destructive behavior, a representative from Interscope asks if releasing the song could come back to bite her in the future.
“Are you actually not going to let her be authentic to who she is now, in case she grows up to do drugs?” Baird responds, defending her daughter.
Cutler’s film further expands on the constricting nature of the industry. Eilish confesses to hating the songwriting process and the pressures of deadlines. Finneas works with Eilish, encouraging her to think about accessibility when creating music.
Viewers also get a glimpse of Eilish’s unhealthy relationship with fellow singer Brandon Adams, whom she refers to as Q. Eilish struggles to stay happy with an increasingly distant and self-destructive Q, ultimately deciding to part ways when realizing that neither could make the other happy.
During all this, Eilish battles with her self-confidence. Eilish says she had to quit everything she’s ever loved doing, namely dance, due to injuries. In the film, we see them resurface as Eilish sprains her ankle and tears ligaments preventing her from putting on her shows the way she wants to. She is a bundle of nerves before performing at Coachella and panics over a malfunctioning screen. Eilish struggles to accept these minor setbacks are not at all detrimental to her performance and her audience is simply content with seeing her sing.
Furthermore, the documentary highlights Eilish’s mental health. She shows journals filled with drawings and dark thoughts at the start and end of the film, as she grows out of depression. We get a glimpse of this through her iconic “Same Interview, One Year Apart” series with Vanity Fair, but “The World’s a Little Blurry” goes into far more depth.
The film features an interview where Eilish is praised for her transparency when it comes to mental health. However, she claims that she never intended to make a statement, she simply conveyed what it felt like to be a human. Eilish tells it like it is, her honesty remarkably rare in a world of fame.
The notion of fame is also called into question in this piece. We see Eilish still celebrating in her tiny childhood home after having won five awards at the Grammys, see her coming of age and learning how to drive, just like any other person.
A clip of Eilish at 12 is pulled up, where she is in tears at the thought of having to love someone other than Justin Bieber. Her mother reveals that she considered sending Eilish to therapy over her obsession with the pop star. Merely years later, Bieber reaches out, wanting to be featured on a remix of “Bad Guy.” When Eilish finally meets her idol, she is starstruck. Her brother reminds her that Eilish knows exactly how it feels to be on the reciprocal side of that feeling.
During a productive night on tour, Finneas highlights her accomplishments, deliriously claiming they really were millionaires.
“We’re so not. We have millions of dollars but that does not make us millionaires,” Eilish bursts out laughing.
Albeit lengthy, “The World’s a Little Blurry” is a documentary for the books, depicting Eilish’s growth in a way untainted by the conventional idea of stardom. It reveals both the frustration and joy that comes with being a young artist, offering astounding insight as to Eilish’s authenticity and evolution. It perfectly encompasses the idea behind her song “everything i wanted.”
“I had a dream / I got everything I wanted / Not what you think.”
Not what we think, indeed.