There’s just something super sweet about watching a young artist get to collaborate with, or even just receive a nod of approval from the artist who inspired them. This gets some attention in Ariana Grande’s recent Excuse Me, I Love You doc, with the singer getting giddy when she’s told she got the approval of her inspiration Mariah Carey. It's a tender, full-circle moment.
Billie Eilish’s The World's a Little Blurry is a two-and-a-half hour concert documentary that showcases a similar full-circle moment between fan and idol: herself and Justin Bieber. The film recounts how she quickly went from normal teenager to world famous popstar with millions of followers. Similar to Bieber’s 2011 concert doc Never Say Never, The World's a Little Blurry begins with home footage of Billie and her brother Finneas playing “Ocean Eyes” in their home, and then getting very excited when they hear it played on the radio for the first time. It then fast-forwards to Billie in 2018, greeting excited fans outside a venue.
This film was apparently catered to me, and resonated strongly since Eilish is also a longtime Belieber. In particular I loved the scene in which Eilish recites every note of Bieber’s song “Believe” and “Fall.” There’s also some footage of the family hearing JB’s verse on Eilish’s “Bad Guy (Remix)” for the first time. Eilish’s mother discusses how much their family wasn’t in the “hater camp” when it came to JB, but rather acknowledged he was a young, talented artist who worked very hard, made mistakes, and grew from them while in the spotlight. Billie was “love sick” over Justin Bieber and a passionate fan of his music from the age of 12, and her mother Maggie tears up, pointing out what a full-circle moment it is to go from Eilish crying to his songs, to hearing him sing one of Billie and Finneas’ numbers… to getting to meet him, cry in his arms, and now becoming friends, despite Eilish still being a little starstruck when he calls.
The insanely thorough concert doc gives a glimpse inside the familial, romantic, and work life behind the artist’s music. Relationships are a big focus of The World's a Little Blurry—particularly her relationship with her brother/music partner Finneas, her parents, Justin Bieber, and her ex-boyfriend Q (AKA rapper Brandon Q Adams), a relationship she never acknowledged until the documentary. Throughout the movie we get to see how wild her life is now, and some of that is related to close ties to her fans. “I don’t think of them like fans ever. They’re not my fans, they’re like... part of me,” Eilish says.
Other challenges include difficulties dealing with the obligations of fame; working with family; a couple of injuries she sustained while dancing and performing; missing friends and family while working and touring; learning how to drive and getting her first car; her love/hate relationship with playing shows; depression and Tourette’s Syndrome, and more. Her vision as a director and filmmaker is given screen time as well with a behind-the-scenes look at her video for “When the Party’s Over.” Despite all she’s adjusting to, Eilish seems to be pretty self aware, wise, and dealing with things in stride—with a few expected hiccups along the way.
Throughout the movie, as she continues to make music in her brother’s bedroom, it’s fun to watch her songwriting process, which at one point she says “tortures” her, but acknowledges that her willingness to talk about the dark stuff is also what draws many to her music. She sketches monsters and writes about her demons in her notebook, and we see how that directly and uniquely affects her music. Her fantastical world often has horror-esque themes, and her musical content openly explores her deep feelings of sadness. “I don’t ever feel happy,” she says. “I feel the dark things, I feel them very strongly. Why would I not talk about them?”
Despite the moody teenager vibes, the exceedingly intimate film will also have you laughing—I loved the extremely typical parental conversations with Eilish’s mom, Maggie Baird, and dad, Patrick O'Connell. There’s also a hilarious interaction including Katy Perry and her fiancé Orlando Bloom… a little cringe, but funny!
From her world tour to Coachella, to cleaning up at her first Grammy ceremony with When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go (an album recorded in her brother’s bedroom no less), to recording the song “No Time to Die” for the upcoming James Bond movie of the same name, the movie covers it all. There’s even a bit of footage including Portland’s Moda Center. By the end, having watched all these hardcore fans’ emotional reactions to Eilish during the live concert footage, it’s obvious by looking at so many of their tear-streaked faces that the artist’s music has filled a void and made them feel seen. It’s apparent that EIlish can be very hard on herself despite everyone else being captivated with her ability to do so much, even when she’s feeling like she’s breaking down. But mostly, the film makes it plain that her often sad and dark music is (usually) not just a teenager being dramatic, but her so-called old, sad soul is really a reflection of what a scary time it is to be a young person.
If you’re curious about Billie Eilish’s story or are looking for a good reason to stan, this doc shall provide.
Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry is currently streaming on Apple TV+.