It's rare for a documentary to offer a truly intimate look inside a celebrity's emotional state as well as her home life, but this film appears to do both. In Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry, the artist allows herself to be very vulnerable, something fans and anyone interested in the lives of teenagers today will find both admirable and intriguing. It's downright brave to be so open in an age of online judging and shaming, something the singer is acutely mindful of. She talks about "internet" reactions to her life and work, and her brother admits that her awareness of her own online persona scares her into inaction sometimes. This openness is perhaps consistent with her digital generation as a whole, but it's also specifically a part of her profile as an artist. She tells interviewers in the film that she sings about what she's feeling, and that she doesn't understand why anyone should hide or cover up feelings, even when they're dark or scary. That may be the most unique aspect of Billie as an artist and this film, and why both will connect with teens the world over, as well as curious parents. In an age of constant posturing, Billie at home still feels real. This also makes it interesting in the film to see her physicality and even diction shift when she's out in the world and on stage.
The star, who is just 17 the year the film is made, opens up on camera about her physical and emotional struggles. We see her enduring pain in the film, and she rarely seems entirely happy or confident, despite her wild successes and even milestones like meeting her tween crush Justin Bieber. The camera scans her bedroom walls and journals, filled with dark images and gloomy, seemingly depressed statements that make their way into her lyrics. This may all explain why her parents are such a constant presence. Family life revolves around Billie. They tearfully admit the essential role of a parent in keeping a teen star on a healthy path (Bieber's past troubles are given as a problematic example). They're also clearly not ready to let her go, which we see in another teary scene the day Billie gets her license and drives off across Los Angeles on her own. Her mom says she understands why teenagers today are depressed, considering all that their world is dealing with, from economic recession to an opioid epidemic to climate crisis, political upheaval and rampant racism (and this was all before the pandemic). At a long 140 minutes (with intermission), the film leaves viewers with a jumble of feelings not unlike a Billie Eilish song -- attracted and entertained, but also uneasy and maybe even a little worried.