It’s inconceivable to really feel comfy when listening to Billie Eilish’s music. It’s not that it’s onerous to hearken to — fairly the alternative. It’s simply that each tune hurts in a barely completely different manner. On the one hand, she makes darkish pop hits like “Dangerous Man” that growl behind a cage of bass-y synths like she’s all the time on the sting of unleashing one thing meaner. Then she pivots to frail ballads that brazenly talk about struggles with psychological well being, and inform tales about deeply damaged individuals surrounded by indicators telling them they need to be okay. There’s all the time one thing sinister lingering on the edges of a Billie Eilish tune, and the catharsis of listening alongside is within the wrestle of conserving it at bay — or indulging it in a manner you assume you possibly can management. She writes love songs for individuals who grew up with monsters beneath their beds, and prefer it.
Within the Apple TV Plus documentary Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry, a pop star who’s crafted an arresting and unsettling aesthetic — movies the place cigarettes are stubbed out on her face, or the place she weeps a poisonous black fluid — lets viewers into the intimate and mundane world she builds it from. The movie is exceptional in its plainness, largely comprising lo-fi footage of candid moments with Eilish and her household within the 12 months main as much as the discharge of her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, The place Do We Go?, and her subsequent sweep of the 2020 Grammy Awards.
Despite its roughly chronological timeline, The World’s A Little Blurry is formless, much less a slickly crafted come-up story and extra a protracted compilation of vignettes, a lot of which don’t linger lengthy sufficient. It’s like scrolling by means of somebody’s smartphone to get a way of what their 12 months was like: among the discoveries are wonderful, and the remaining leaves questions behind.
The film is immersed in Eilish’s residence and household: the cramped bed room the place she recorded most of When We All Fall Asleep, The place Do We Go, the messy kitchen the place she talked to her mom, the lounge/workplace the place she and her brother mastered each observe and performed them for others. Outdoors of Eilish herself, the 2 most outstanding voices are the relations instrumental to her success: her brother Finneas, who writes a lot of her songs, and her mom, Maggie Baird.
The World’s A Little Blurry explains little or no about this. There’s one scene the place Eilish performs a present in her hometown, however there’s no indication of what city that’s, or what it means to her. (Maybe as a result of it’s within the Los Angeles space, the place numerous stars dwell.) It offers the documentary a placeless feeling, one which’s compounded whenever you discover there aren’t any asides naming Eilish’s mom, or noting her profession as an actor and author. Equally, aside from the various scenes of Billie and Finneas writing and performing collectively, there isn’t an entire lot of perception about their collaboration. In sidestepping a lot of her biography, the movie portrays Eilish as an artist from wherever, with out pretension, and identical to you. On this, she is like each pop star, regardless of her efforts to carve a really completely different path.
The result’s a film that does, the truth is, blur the world round its pop-star topic. However that feeling is at odds with the movie’s greatest elements, those that seize intimate feelings, moderately than simply intimate areas. These moments may be gentle (a video of a 12-year-old Eilish completely smitten with Justin Bieber) heartbreaking (footage of Eilish in dance rehearsal, her old flame earlier than an damage made it inconceivable) and troublesome (a dialog between Eilish and Baird regarding lyrics about self-harm in considered one of her songs). These moments are fleeting, however they make a robust impression, because of the vérité method The World’s A Little Blurry takes all through.
Pop stars are within the enterprise of picture as a lot as music, crafting a story that makes them appear relatable to their followers. For artists and followers of Eilish’s era — she’s 19, and the movie depicts the months main as much as her 18th birthday — there’s no need to point out that work, even because it’s rigorously achieved in photograph shoots and interviews. You get her otherwise you don’t — and The World’s A Little Blurry is solely fascinated by speaking to viewers who do.
Older generations are likely to embrace nostalgic music as a result of fashionable pop acts don’t mirror the tastes of their day. That is by design: pop music is all the time altering. There might by no means be one other Britney Spears, and there shouldn’t be. At the very least not for Gen Z — they don’t want Britney Spears. They’ve Billie Eilish, a pop star born right into a world that’s as complicated and distressing as theirs. At one level in The World’s A Little Blurry, Eilish’s mom rails towards critics who name her daughter’s music miserable. “No!” she says, a bit exasperated. “Youngsters are depressed!”
On one stage, that is an outdated fact being spun as a brand new one: Teen angst has lengthy been the gas that powers pop superstars. However on one other, there actually is one thing distinctive to this second about Eilish and her music. She — together with rapid predecessors like Charlie xcx and Lorde — are releasing bangers for a doomed era, a younger viewers related and savvy sufficient to know that they may dwell to foot the invoice prior generations left behind. Not like earlier generations, extra of their demons have names, and Eilish is joyful to whisper them into her followers’ ears, and inform them that she sees them too.
Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry is now streaming on Apple TV Plus.