If there’s ever a more awkward time to be alive than the final year before high school, I haven’t lived it yet. Writer-Director Bo Burnham (yes, that singing comedian) has crafted a completely believable, uncomfortable, squirmy, beautiful ode to that troublesome, turbulent, pubescent period known as Eighth Grade.
Budding youTube vlogger Kayla (Elsie Fisher) pontificates to the camera on any number of topics such as confidence, or best friends, but off camera is shown to be naively lacking any sort of context for such pronouncements. She struggles in her dealings with the easily popular girls. She crushes on a wiry, spiky-haired boy in her class. Her days are filled with, at worst, being pushed around, at best, being ignored. But still she plasters a smile, and a new snapchat filter, and presents an air of positivity to the outside world. Her clueless dad (an absolutely perfect Josh Hamilton) tries to engage, but Elsie is wrapped it in her own drama, real or imagined.
There’s not a huge story to Eighth Grade, merely a series of vignettes, mostly about how shitty it is to be a kid right now. The digital age is not friendly to Generation whateverthisoneis. Elsie Fisher, with her hunched shoulders, gawky posturing, and clueless proselytizing is so perfect as Kayla, mining every moment of its last clumsy drop. And while Burnham isn’t a very visual director, his first full-length feature is a solid effort, mostly due to the strong writing, subtle performances and the completely honest approach to the storytelling.
My Grade – B