Film & TV

Eighth Grade

4/5 stars

I think it’s dif­fi­cult to por­tray young life well in film, but Eighth Grade takes on the chal­lenge. It’s an authen­tic por­tray­al of teenage life in so many ways: the anx­i­ety, awk­ward­ness, and uncer­tain­ty you feel about your­self are all there, but so are the moments where you learn things about your­self and decide to accept and love them.

A few day­dream scenes are backed by great songs, then cut fast and abrupt­ly to bring both the char­ac­ter and audi­ence back to real­i­ty. Some scenes are per­fect­ly uncom­fort­able and just the right bit of long, and it’s those type of bold choic­es in edit­ing that help tell this beau­ti­ful sto­ry so well.

Eighth Grade reminds you how mean kids can be, but also how adults don’t real­ly get less mean per se, we just get bet­ter about being polite about it. And of course, none of this would be pos­si­ble with­out Elsie Fish­ers per­for­mance which brings Kay­la to life in a gen­uine way.

I mean, even the fact that Kay­la has acne in the movie speaks to how impor­tant it was for Bo Burn­ham to tell this sto­ry authentically—not in a per­fect, air­brushed, every­one gets along Hol­ly­wood way. Eighth graders (and all of us, real­ly) can watch this and see them­selves and hope­ful­ly learn that it’s ok to be awk­ward, it’s ok if you haven’t found your peo­ple” yet, and if things didn’t turn out the way you want­ed, tomor­row is a whole new day to try again.