The film begins, as these films always do, with the obligatory collage of home film footage reporting Billie's many musical endeavors from little child to adolescent, and her transition from dancing to singing. This is after she tragically burst her hip development plate at the age of 13. Not missing a beat prior to hitting 14, Eilish pens "Ocean Eyes," her first song with her brother Finneas to get some affection on the radio. Fast forwarding three years, we see her account When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, the introduction that would make her a household name, and the rest as they say, is history.
The film effortlessly entwines Billie's wholesome sitcom-eque home existence with her ascension to pop stardom — brief she's attempting to get her driver's license, and the following she's going on her first visit. Chief R.J. Cutler keeps the narrative light while hitting the story beats of her career up until this point: recording Bad Guy with her brother in his room, her embarrassing turn at Coachella where she failed to remember the lyrics to her own songs and finally her triumphant domination of the 2020 Grammys for the grand finale.
The best bits in documentaries like this are the point at which the subject forgets they are being shot and their mask slips for just long enough for the camera to get a glimpse beneath the facade. That's what made Taylor Swift's Miss Americana so damn great and enlightening for non-fans: unguarded moments where, for example, Swift laments her remaining shelf life as a popstar – like a real person. There's not really a second here where Eilish doesn't seem to be self-conscious, and her moments of calm introspection frequently feel coached, rather than spontaneous. While there's a short notice of Billie's struggles with self harm and another of her living with tourettes, it really feels like she's not ready to investigate her own demons yet. This point is underscored by Finneas who laments offhandedly about how "woke" Billie is about her cultivated personae and how it's seen on the web.
Because of that, The World's a Little Bit Blurry lacks any real gravity or erosion and feels more like cinematic fanservice. About the solitary extreme emotion in doc's nearly more than two hour run time is an argument among Billie and Finneas about his desire to make "commercial music that appeals to the masses" or when Eilish decides to break it off with Q, her long time sweetheart. While the brother/sister argument is dispatched in record time when mother to brokers a ceasefire, Q spends the majority of the film standing up or flaking out on Billie at various events. That is until he deserts her when she needs him most — during her disastrous Coachella performance — and that is the finish of Q.
Given the new harvest of schadenfreude superstar docs, I really can't hold it against the film that Eilish is so balanced and it's actually a refreshing change to have a positive outlook on the subject after the credits roll. Yet, I can't help however think this task was probably somewhat premature, that we need to give Billie a touch more opportunity to develop comfortable in her own skin and gain some perspective. I would have favored a doc about the artistic angst she will most likely face when making the followup to Where Do We Go, all the while thinking back on her seemingly effortless rise. While curious onlookers and casual fans will most likely appreciate TWALBB, the super fans — those searching for the source of her 12 PM dark narratives — might have to wait somewhat more for the Invisiline-shaking 16 year-old to give us access on the secret.