Love, Pain and Family: A Billie Eilish Documentary

Similar to recent music documentaries like Shawn Mendes In Wonder and Taylor Swifts’ Miss Americana, Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry, goes behind the scenes of album creation and the young artists just trying to navigate life and celebrity as best as they can. While this documentary focuses solely on Eilish, it’s such a deep look into the world of teenage celebrities and the challenges and wins they experience.  Read on for my full review of the documentary Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry.

Billie Eilish documentary

Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry, a documentary now streaming on Apple TV+, starts with a haunting chorus of “Ocean Eyes” and a note that Billie Eilish was 13 when she released the song online. Fast forward three years and so starts an intimate and riveting documentary covering the teen singer’s promotion of the album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?.  

The documentary shows the singer’s life, love and family within the span of a two-year period.  At 17, Billie Eilish is in a relationship with another artist and making music at home with her brother Finneas.  The family lives together in a small house in Los Angeles, and Eilish records music in her bedroom a small space that is almost entirely taken up by the singer’s bed.  

With the release of her first album, Eilish is enlisted in album promotion and then touring only to find that her schedule takes a toll on relationships and her body.  It’s revealed that Eilish dealing with Tourette’s Syndrome and the physical pain of shin splits plus a lingering hip injury from her years of dancing.  The physical pain that Eilish suffers is heartbreaking, she can’t dance and soar on stage because her body is so broken. 

Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry also pulls back the curtain on the business of music, showcasing sometimes that Eilish has to participate or preform when she simply doesn’t feel well enough to.  In fact, there are several scenes that are frankly creepy especially the meet and greets where Eilish is visibly uncomfortable hugging grown men. And yet when she has to continue to smile and take pictures with what she calls “randos” it’s not surprising her frustration builds enough to tell her team not to put her in situations like that again.

Billie Eilish documentary

As her mother Maggie Baird points out later in the film, teenagers are dealing with so much these days, including an opiate epidemic, a horrible administration and climate change.  This rolls into Eilish’s speaking about her experience with cutting around the age of 14.

Here’s the thing, I think what’s so surprising about this documentary is just how relatable Billie Eilish is.  One pivotal scene is where Eilish meets Justin Bieber and is so overcome with emotion that she can’t even have him hug her at first.  Eilish has always been a huge fan of Bieber and their friendship progresses through DM’s discussing a possible collaboration to actually meeting face to face.  Not surprisingly, her emotion and joy at actually meeting him in person is palpable. 

I think this documentary shows a different kind of celebrity and fame, and to stay grounded Eilish seems content to stay surrounded by the arms of her family in their modest Los Angeles home.  She brings one friend on tour and openly talks about her need for connection with her friends and fans. The demise of her relationship with rapper “Q” is actually a welcome aspect of the movie, as he treats her so shitty it is hard to see why she puts up with him for as long as she does.  

The editing of Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry is a bit choppy and while it tracks the cities Billie visits, I couldn’t tell the actual timeline until Eilish celebrates her 18th birthday.  At 2 hours and 10 minutes, it has an intermission and some adult themes like self-harm and discussion of drug use but it’s nothing that warrants the R rating it has.  The film is mostly made up of footage shot by Eilish and her family showing the family bickering and the love shared by the four including her parents who ultimately realize that have to let her go just a little bit just as their own parents did years before. 

As a fan, I loved the deep insight into her songwriting process (a process in which Eilish loathes) and as a parent, it was obvious to me why she resonates with so many teenagers including my own.

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