Describe This Movie In One "Fame" Lyrcs:
DAVID BOWIE: Is it any wonder I reject you first?
Brief Plot Synopsis: Teen singer has all the feels, wins all the Grammys.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 4 tarantulas out of 5.
Better Tagline: "Because we anticipate a lot of overlap between Eilish fans and 1996 election obsessives."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Singer Billie Eilish released her first song ("Ocean Eyes") online when she was 13. The ensuing rise to stardom has been rapid, but not without pitfalls.
"Critical" Analysis: The World's a Little Blurry begins with Eilish elatedly hearing her first song playing on local radio, then jumps forward a few years to watching her perform gigs in front of what now seem like impossibly small crowds. From there, we go through the recording of her first full-length album and her triumphant night at the 2020 Grammy Awards.
That on its own would probably be enough, but we also follow her as she studies for (and ultimately passes ... spoiler) her driving exam, frets over her impending performance at Coachella, performs at Coachella, and divulges more than is probably advisable about her past obsession with (and ongoing affection for) Justin Bieber. The Bieb, in fairness, comes across as extremely chill and supportive in the film.
And if there's a consistent theme to the movie, it's how supportive everyone in her orbit is. From her parents, who encouraged her musical interests early on (mom Maggie taught her songwriting basics as part of their homeschooling) to brother Finneas, who co-writes all her songs and produced When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
How many other big brothers would allow their little sister to hang out in their room that long?
It's their relationship that really shores up her efforts, especially in their shorthand while working together (often as simple as offering that a certain lick or lyric is "cool" or "not cool enough"). The four-years older Finneas grounds her while also giving the audience an older sib's occasionally wry perspective of a young woman's struggles with success.
Because in spite of a surprisingly refined voice and devoted fan base (my own daughter among them), Eilish was still a kid during most of the film (she turned 18 a few months before the Grammys). It's her openness while briefly discussing her struggles with Tourette's Syndrome and self-harm that speaks to so many of her fans and provides a connection well beyond the usual youthful obsession with pop stars.
Family also accounts for two of the film's most revealing moments. The first being a post-NYC gig meet-and-greet with middle-aged industry bros that Eilish is visibly unhappy with, yet Maggie guides her through. The other is her father Patrick offering a stark assessment of what it means to be a parent after Eilish gets in her car for the first time and drives away.
But at nearly two-and-a-half hours, it threatens to drag. There are a ton of live performances, which will be a treat for those cheated out of 2020 tour dates by the pandemic, but this isn't The Last Waltz. Still, R.J. Cutler has given us a frank an intimate look at this rising star. It remains to be seen if Eilish can find balance between fame and personal happiness. My daughter is pulling for her, at least. Hell, so am I.
Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry is in select theaters and streaming on Apple TV+ today.