From releasing her first song Ocean Eyes at 13, to being the voice of the James Bond soundtrack at 18, life for Billie Eilish has never been slow sailing. R.J Cutler’s new documentary, The World’s a Little Blurry, tells a true coming-of-age story about the singer’s rise to fame, inviting the audience to gain a real insight into the obstacles she has faced in her career, and how she overcame them.
Family and home life
Billie Eilish was born in Los Angeles to parents in the acting industry with a love for making music. It goes without saying that her parent’s influence on her life was the crucial catalyst that kick started her music career. The documentary features an array of adorable home footage moments throughout, including a playful clip of Billie being bounced upon piano keys by her father, and another clip from a performance with Billie and Finneas on vocals, their dad on piano and mum on guitar.
Billie’s parents feature multiple times throughout the film as mentors to her and general worriers. The first time Billie sets off alone in her dream car, her mum was shocked to find out she had driven to West Hollywood (30 minutes from her home in the Highland Park area of LA) and was upset by the fact Billie had not spoken to her before, however Billie’s dad reassured her that she would be fine. In another scene, Billie and her dad are cleaning her car for the first time, and there is a subtle humbling feeling created by her astonishment from a hose spray setting.
The fact Billie still lives in her childhood home and has done her whole life tells the viewer all you need to know about how strong her bond is with her parents; her education being given completely from home has undoubtedly held responsibility for their closeness.
Unknown to some, is the fact that Billie recorded her whole album from her own home, in her brother’s bedroom. What this documentary successfully shows is how there really are two parts to ‘Billie Eilish’; there’s the star of the show and the incredible voice of the act, Billie herself, and there’s the work behind the scenes, Finneas. His previous production work allowed him to make When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? possible.
Her and Finneas share many personal moments throughout the documentary; some of the most poignant moments happening when they work as a team to write the album. He reminds her that “we’re not gonna get it done if we don’t do it” after she becomes demotivated and thinks it “sounds pretty horrible”. He is a constant shoulder to cry on for Billie and the rock in her life; only exaggerated by her 2020 single ‘everything i wanted’ focusing on their love for each other.
Writing the album
Most of Billie’s music revolves around her experiences with mental health problems, drug abuse and broken relationships. In the documentary, Billie invites the audience to listen to a raw and honest first-hand account to really grasp the feelings she had while making her album. She highlights the fact that she prefers drawing songs to writing them and explains her intense sketches; she notes that she’s “never feeling happy so why should I write about things I don’t know about” in response to those who question why she doesn’t have any happy music.
Despite hating writing songs, Billie never hesitates to have creative control over her music videos, directing all of them herself. One scene in particular highlights the real professional director character in Billie, which is almost made comedic by the fact it is filmed in her back garden with her mum as the model and her dad in the background picking up dog poo.
Another aspect of her life that Billie decides to be open about in this documentary is the toxic relationship with her ex-boyfriend, something previously that was kept a secret from the public eye. Her lifestyle is constantly go, go, go, so for her to receive little to no comfort in the small amount of downtime she has where she is able to see her boyfriend, is truly upsetting to watch. We see a constant stream of one-sided phone calls and non-reciprocated affection leading to an upsetting end just after beginning her album tour, arguably where she felt the most alone.
One man that will always have Billie’s heart, however, is Justin Bieber. A collaboration with one of the biggest popstars in the world is a big deal to anyone, but when it’s with someone who you have spent most of your life obsessing over, that’s a whole other story. It seems as if the whole documentary is adoringly dedicated to Justin; the love Billie has for him could well have been the reason she was so interested in making music in the first place, and with the penultimate moment of the documentary being the two Facetiming after Billie’s huge win at the Grammy’s, it could act as a final thank you to show her appreciation for him.
Overall, this documentary has delivered on all accounts; Billie shows a side to the audience that has never been seen before, and even to those who wouldn’t call themselves a fan, if you can appreciate born talent and the journey of a young successful female artist, this documentary is for you. Sidenote: bring the tissues.
Written by Olivia Clayton.