If you have paid attention to music or music culture over the past two years, Billie Eilish likely needs no introduction. Even if not the Bad Guy instrumental has been so heavily adopted by advertisers that it will be recognisable independent of the artist. What do teenage pop sensations typically get as their fame explodes? A slice of life documentary.
On one level the film follows its subject and her team around over the year that saw explode in popularity. It picks up with Eilish and her brother/ producing partner Fimmeas putting the finishing touches on her debut album. It culminates with her Grammy dominance of 2020. So far so conventional right? Yes and no. Clocking in at a mammoth 140 minutes on one level the piece does offer a relatively typical fly on the wall effort. The creative teems very smartly frame this endeavour not necessarily as a documentation of its subjects increasing megastardom. There is a more distinct focus on the fact that Eilish and those around her adjust passengers on the train of her success. The film offers an intriguing look at the emotional and psychological impact of burgeoning potentially long-lasting fame not typical of stardom based documentaries.
Eilish herself is an incredibly engaging screen presence. Discussion and banter as the two siblings finish off the album comes across as natural and very entertaining. Despite the presence of various affiliated record labels in the opening credits the documentary is not afraid to show a more vulnerable side of one of the world’s biggest new music stars. Some of the films most intriguing moments document Eilish unhappiness at how she executed various performances. She gets overwhelmed at how much handshaking is involved at her level of stardom. These sections feel revealing and honest without the exploitative element that can be present in some of these productions That said the final product feels too long, shambling and lacking in structure. However when the film takes what could be a very typical documentary of its type, injects it with compelling and engaging figures and natural, honest interviews it almost doesn’t matter. The biggest compliment you could potentially pay the piece is that it manages to make a reoccurring motif regarding Eilishs obsession with Justin Bieber into an engaging subplot. This is despite the latter’s crimes against music ( there’s no excusing Yummy.)
Billie Eilish: The Worlds A Little Blurry is a compelling and refreshingly honest look at the modern music industry through the eyes of its biggest burgeoning star. Yes, it’s too far too long and in need of a good edit. That said sometimes documentaries can get around this by simply effectively presenting compelling subjects. This is very much the case here. In terms of contemporary music documentaries with a broad appeal, it’s comfortably one of the best around. The fact it is buried away on Apple TV + where hardly anyone will see it is honestly massively disappointing. It’s one of those documentaries that have the potential to be engaging to viewers, regardless of what they think of its subject.