Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry

Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry

2021, R, 140 min. Directed by R.J. Cutler.

REVIEWED By Jenny Nulf, Fri., March 5, 2021

The title of this comprehensive documentary about Billie Eilish features a lyric from one of her favorite songs she’s ever written, “ilomilo.” It’s a complex and dark pop track about the terrifying fear of being separated from someone you love, someone you’d die for. Inspired by a game she used to love playing on her phone, the song is layered with quivering fear, choked back tears, and unbearable pleading.

Much like the singer herself, “ilomilo” is haunting, and, similar to her music, Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry isn’t just surface level fluff. It’s packed with the usual music documentary live performances, writing sessions, and valuable personal moments, but it’s the film’s patient and honest introspective on young fame that makes it feel so much more than your standard pop music doc. For every success, Eilish has to face pitfalls: a damaged ankle, breaking up with her boyfriend, and internet scrutiny. There’s an incredible vulnerability Eilish has in front of the camera: she’s unguarded for her fans, willing to show the world her tears, frustration, and pain.

After performing her hit "Bored" from the 13 Reasons Why soundtrack to a small venue packed with diehard fans, she comments, “I’d look into the crowd and I’d see all these faces. So many different feelings and heartbreak… And the least I can do is make art that I make because I have the same problems.” Her fans hug her, cry into her arms: they are a part of her. The World’s a Little Blurry isn’t meant to be a Wikipedia summary of her career, it’s an invite into her life.

Throughout the intimate documentary from R.J. Cutler (A Perfect Candidate, Belushi, The September Issue), Eilish focuses on her family’s support and love. Writing songs in her bedroom with her brother while he sits at her desk and she lounges on the bed with a mic, the intimacy of her music starts there. Elder sibling Finneas knows when to push her, and when to light her up. He promises every song she writes will be the best she’s ever done, even when that promise makes her want to scream. Her parents are always on her side, supportive but not overbearing. In a touching moment, Eilish gets her driver’s license and immediately zooms over to her boyfriend’s house, leaving her father in the driveway, monologuing to the camera about how you have to let children grow up, and how bittersweet that release can be. It’s a scene that feels reminiscent of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, powerful in its mundane simplicity and nostalgia.

The World’s a Little Blurry does a great job at emphasizing how young Eilish still is, and how even with fame she’s still dealing with all the agony that comes with growing up. She sobs upon meeting her lifelong crush Justin Bieber after her boyfriend doesn’t show up to support her in the aftermath of a stressful Coachella performance. When they eventually break up, her voice cracks on stage and she chokes on the words, “I can’t escape the way I love you” from the painful ballad “i love you.” It’s so raw and heart shattering to watch Eilish break from her performance, but it’s a moment that tenderly connects her with her fans who are simultaneously sobbing to the same lyrics.

Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry is like an epic emo video diary entry. It’s sentimental, reflective, and is layered with great music (and great music shirts – shout out to Eilish’s father’s incredible Phoebe Bridgers tee collection). It’ll not just make you miss the experience of watching your favorite performer in a packed crowd, but make you wistful for the undying passion of being a young fan and the pure joy of watching your favorite artist shoot for the moon – and make it.

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More R.J. Cutler Films
More than laughs, more than addiction: a charming, tragic portrait of the Blues Brothers star

Richard Whittaker, Nov. 27, 2020

If I Stay
A mixture of hollow heartache and honest feelings mark this teen drama that stars Chloë Grace Moretz as a cello prodigy caught in medical limbo between life and death.

William Goss, Aug. 22, 2014

More by Jenny Nulf
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May 19, 2023

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April 21, 2023


Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry, R.J. Cutler

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