RJ Cutler, the director of “September Issue”, in a documentary about the idol of generation Z, checks whether fame prevents you from growing up.
It would not be surprising that the 19-year-old still lives with her parents, spends most of her free time with her older brother, and organizes parties in the backyard garden. But Billie Eilish is the most famous teenager in the world, who for her debut album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” in 2019, she won five Grammy Awards, has $ 50 million on her account, and almost 80 million followers on Instagram.
The documentary Billie Eilish: A Slightly Foggy World, directed by RJ Cutler for Apple TV, is primarily a story about a family. Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell grew up in Los Angeles. She and her brother Finneas, four years her senior, did not go to school. Their home lessons were taught by their mother, Maggie Baird, a dubbing actress, writer and teacher. She is her daughter’s best friend, advisor, oracle, and Dad Pat is her number one fan. Without my parents, there would be no music at home. – We could do what we dreamed of Billie says.
Maggie taught Billie to sing, Dad taught him to play the piano and ukulele. A girl endowed with an ethereal soprano, however, would not have made a career if it were not for Finneas. It is he who writes songs with her, or actually forces her to write something, because Billie does not like to do it at all. In 2015, when she was 13, the home-recorded “Ocean Eyes” was a hit on SoundCloud and then on radio stations. Finneas is now also making music for Selena Gomez, Camila Cabello and John Legend, but he still has a symbiotic relationship with his sister. – We still write songs locked in his bedroom – says Eilish in the movie.
Billie’s world is indeed a bit foggy, because she suffered from depression almost from an early age. She even had episodes of self-harm. – I never feel happy, why would I write about something I don’t know? – says. In front of the camera of Cutler, who wanted to make a documentary like “The Office” – in the protagonist’s intimate relationship with the lens and the viewer – the star is shaky, cranky, melancholic. Capricious, like a teenager. She says she doesn’t like it when people look at her, she hates the color pink, and she doesn’t want to record a second album.
But this haze – or the claustrophobia that permeates the frames – also comes from the fact that the world in which Billie lives is actually very small. Yes, crowds come to her concerts; yes, each of her music videos is watched by hundreds of millions of fans; yes, her music reaches the farthest corners of the world. But she still seems like the little girl who slams the door to her room alone. On the walls there are images like from horror movies. Monsters under the bed, crying characters, tangle of shapes – Eilish draws every song. The image is preceded by sound.
There have been a lot of films about musicians in recent years. For their fictional actors they win awards (for example Andra Day for the role of Billie Holiday at this year’s Golden Globes), thanks to the documentary – “Seasons” about Justin Bieber, “Miss Americana” about Taylor Swift or “Gaga: Five Foot Two” – we took a look behind the scenes of the work of the greatest stars of show business. Most of these films are about emancipation – from the expectations of others, from your own past, from stereotypes.
Billie still seems trapped. As a member of Generation Z, she has a license to strangeness. He can wear green hair, witch nails, and clunky clothes (Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Calvin Klein). She can talk about depression, an injury she suffered while dancing, and struggling with Tourette’s syndrome. – I have the same problems as my fans, so they understand what I am singing about – says.
She may be imperfect, which her top predecessors, such as Britney Spears, have been denied. She can be like all teenagers – in love with Justin Bieber (he turned from an idol to a friend), healed a broken heart (on the way to fame she broke up with her boyfriend, Brandon “Q” Adams), rebelling against the establishment.
The problem is, Eilish will someday want to grow up and unwittingly or subconsciously become a teenage girl hostage. – Our home is a delicate system of dependencies – says dad in the movie. Together with Maggie and Finneas, they run a family business. For Billie or at her expense? The director of Billie Eilish: A Slightly Foggy World and fans want to believe it’s for her own good.