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Honest, authentic, and a little hard to watch: Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry

If you’re a fan of Billie Eilish or have even listened to a few of her songs, then you’ll know she never shies away from hard topics and very real problems, including, anxiety, depression, suicide, drugs, sleep paralysis and climate change. Available on Apple TV, Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry, is a documentary that stays very true to Billie’s music and follows in its footsteps in expressing some of the world’s greatest flaws. For this reason, at times it is difficult to watch and if you find topics such as self-harm, suicide, and depression difficult to engage in, then it (and this review) may not be for you.

The musical documentary takes you on a 2-hour, 20-minute journey following Billie as she writes and records her best-selling album When we all fall asleep, where do we go?, struggles with the hardships of touring, and has her debut performance at Coachella. Everything we expect and demand when watching a musician’s documentary.

However, Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry, takes things to the next level of authenticity. You aren’t just watching her record the album in a studio, instead, you get to witness amazing vocals and the creative frustrations of writing and recording an album from the very comfort of Billie’s childhood bedroom. You get to watch as Billie doubts herself and see her brother/producer, Finneas O’Connell, encourage her to keep going. You get to see her boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend) let her down. You are invited into Billie’s humble LA home, as she hangs out with her family, is lectured by her parents, and plays with her dog and tarantula (yes I said tarantula). You really feel like you are there and know everything about her and her life.

 

 

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The documentary proves even more transparent as it shows Billie having a tick attack from Tourette Syndrome. Until a candid interview on Ellen in 2019, this is something Billie tried to hide in interviews and is clearly something that would have been difficult for her to share.

The creative choices in the documentary are fantastic, taking you on an emotional rollercoaster and always playing the right song at the right moment. There is also the perfect balance between performances and real-life, with the creative decision to highlight Billie being a “normal teenager,” living in a “normal house”, which juxtaposes the consequences of stardom. The fact that she has 80.7 million Instagram followers, and 15 billion streams on Spotify, works fabulously to portray Billie’s wacky reality. In the documentary, you see Billie at an event promoting the release of her album, decked out, head-to-toe in a colourful Louis Vuitton bucket hat, face mask, jumper, pants, and shoes. The next clip shows her mum, Maggie Baird, unloading the clothes from their washing machine in their backyard. It’s really quite amusing to see the two extremes.

 

 

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Billie being authentic in her music was one of the biggest themes in the documentary. Her song Xanny is about the ugliness of drug addiction and how Billie is personally against drug use. In the documentary, Billie’s team questions her decision to release a song which states she is against drugs, in case in the future she gets involved with drugs and looks like a “hypercritic.” Billie’s mother gets quite defensive over this mindset.

“Are you not going to let her be authentic to who she is now, in case she grows up to do drugs? There are an army of people trying to not let that happen.”

Billie talks about how her music has had a lot of criticism for being “too sad”. She says her songs are sad because they are a reflection of how she is feeling, and she doesn’t want to write and sing about what she doesn’t know.

“But I’m never feeling happy so why would I write things I don’t know about.”

You get to see the songwriting and recording process for possibly one of Billie’s darkest songs Listen before I go. With the lyrics “take me to the rooftop. I want to see the world when I stop breathing”, Billie’s very concerned mother, questions her about whether these lyrics represent what she actually wants. Billie says “having this way of saying it, instead of doing it, is better.”

The most difficult part of the documentary to watch is Billie looking back at her old journal, from when she was 14-15, the ages she said she was “at her worst”. In the journal are drawings representing depression, and a poem talking about self-harm. Directly after the poem, comes a photograph of 14–15-year-old Billie smiling with her family. It is painful to look at knowing what she was going through at that age.

Despite, being very difficult to watch I praise Billie for being brave enough to share something so difficult and while these parts are extremely tough to sit through, the documentary includes many sweet moments. You get to intrude on some family moments and milestones including Billie getting her license and her worried father watching as she leaves the driveway for the first time.  We watch her meet childhood crush Justin Bieber, win a total of 11 Grammy’s alongside her brother, and see her reflect on the reasons she is now happy- big and small.

“I’m nominated for six Grammy’s, and I have my dream car, Finneas has his dream car, and it’s raining. And I have my pooch doggy in the car. I ate doughnuts last night, I’m not in a relationship, thank the lords. My relationship with my family is good. I am pretty, somewhat. I am famous [laughs] as f*ck. Life is good.”

 

 

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For mental health resources please visit:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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