It was April 2019, and singer / songwriter Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell (you know her as Billie Eilish) was making her Coachella debut. At the age of 17. The week after her debut album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. And as she prepared to launch “When the Party’s Over” into the welcoming arms of tens of thousands of festival-goers, one of the biggest stars on the pop planet had a small request.
“I just want us all to be in the moment with this song,” she said. “It’s happening right now, and it’s crazy.”
It’s happening right now, and it’s crazy. As well as summing up this wild moment in what was to become an even wilder year, this stunned line is also a pretty good synopsis of the new Apple TV + documentary “Billie Eilish: The World Is A Little Fuzzy.”
Director RJ Cutler (“Belushi”, “The September Issue”) gives us a quick look at the two action-packed years that began with Eilish and her collaborating brother, Finneas O’Connell, pushing to finish the album and s’ is done with the sibling duo that swept the 2020 Grammy Awards.
From great professional triumphs (world tours, TV appearances, millions of Spotify streams) to personal milestones (getting your driver’s license, breaking up with boyfriend, meeting Justin Bieber), Cutler and his cameras are here for all the grownups. moments as they happen. And yes, it’s a little crazy.
At 140 minutes, the movie has a few too many moments of all sizes. But Eilish is such a great company that she helps Cutler succeed. Even if your high school diary didn’t contain the raw materials for a million-selling album, this movie about a pop prodigy who is also a clever, brooding, goofy and passionate teenager will take you straight back to that time when everything counts. , nothing makes sense and no one understands you except your friends.
The film opens with a brief clip from 2015, when Eilish’s recording of O’Connell’s dream ballad “Ocean Eyes” was released on the music-sharing platform SoundCloud and became a hit. immediate streaming. Fast forward three years, and the siblings switch between playing in front of increasingly passionate crowds and grinding songs with a record label deadline blowing their necks away.
When performing for fans who are already familiar with many of the songs that will be on the album, Eilish is a rock star energy ball who can be as vulnerable as your best friend on her worst day. It’s a real gift.
“I don’t consider them to be fans, ever,” she said. “They are not my fans. They are part of me.”
And when she’s working on songs with O’Connell (who’s four years older), Eilish is one half of a stunning team capable of turning keyboard noodles and cellphone notes into songs that strike a universal chord all over. sounding like no one. other.
Watch them kick around the half-formed song that would become Grammy-winning “Bad Guy” or perform a debut version of “My Strange Addiction” to a few visiting record label dudes (“Why n didn’t they clap? ”Connell wonders, half-jokingly) is music pure gold. These moments are also a great insight into the duo’s creative chemistry and brotherly dynamics. Eilish worries about deadlines and struggles with self-doubt (“I can’t look good because I’m no good”), while O’Connell remains calm and encouraging as she continues to write songs with someone who says she hates writing songs.
“I feel like I was told to write a hit,” he said wearily at one point. “But I was told not to tell Billie we have to write a hit.”
But they write a hit. In fact, they write several. And before we even know it, Interscope Records is celebrating the end of “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” album by giving Eilish her dream car (a matte black Dodge Charger), even though she can’t drive it on her own yet.
Then the siblings and their band set off on a grueling world tour that will see the singer commune with delirious and happy fans (Eilish is a hug) and sing songs about death, grief and dangerous love in a croon. smoke that lands like a comforting weighted blanket. about the people who need to hear it most.
True to the island spirit of an artist who recorded her Grammy album with her brother in her childhood bedroom, Cutler rarely strayed outside of Billie’s bubble and the tight family circle of Eilish, O ‘ Connell and their supportive parents. The lack of outward voices and overall perspective makes the film claustrophobic at times, but Eilish is such a relatable bundle of raw nerves and good humor that the confined quarters won’t bother you.
And with Cutler’s Access, we’re here for the ups and downs and everything in between.
We’re there when Eilish and O’Connell are writing the theme for the upcoming James Bond movie and when she sprains her ankle on stage. We’re there when the physical demands of touring worsen Eilish’s Tourette Syndrome tics and her aggressive dance on stage gives her shin splints. We’re there when her questionable but resigned father watches her take out the Charger on her first solo ride and when her mom wakes her up to the news that she’s been nominated for a Grammy series.
Best of all, perhaps, here we are as a young artist begins to take flight.
After watching Britney Spears get swallowed up by stardom in the recent FX documentary “Framing Britney Spears”, it’s heartwarming to see Eilish stand up for herself when a post-show encounter goes awry. We see her making her own videos and refining the style (baggy hip-hop clothes, sneakers, big jewelry) that belongs to her. We see her slowly leafing through the painful entries of an old newspaper and recognizing how far she has come.
And on the day of the Grammy nominations, we see Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell take a drive and revel in his blessings. The big, the small and the crazy.
“I am nominated for six Grammys. I have the car of my dreams. I ate donuts last night, ”she says. “Life is Beautiful.”
“Billie Eilish: The World Is A Little Blurry” airs on Apple TV +.
(Karla Peterson is a columnist for The San Diego Union-Tribune.)
(c) 2021 The San Diego Union-Tribune
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.