In his feature film directorial debut, comedian Bo Burnham deftly encapsulates the awkwardness, angst, self-loathing and reinvention that a teenage girl goes through on the cusp of high school. Given that the 27-year-old stand-up comic achieved fame as a teenager himself through YouTube by riffing on his insecurities, he is uniquely capable as the film's writer and director to tell the story of Kayla, an anxious girl navigating the final days of her eighth grade year, despite creating a protagonist w female instead of male. Like Burnham did more than a decade ago, 13-year-old Kayla turns to YouTube to express herself, where she makes advice blogs in which she pretends to have it all together. In reality, Kayla is sullen and silent around her single father and her peers at school, carrying out most of her interactions with her classmates on Instagram and Twitter. Her YouTube videos are a clever narrative tool that provide insight into her inner hopes and dreams, much like an ...
In the mall scene where Kayla first walks in to meet Olivia, she walks past a number of mid-mall kiosks. One of them has a mirror and you can see the crew briefly reflected as she moves through the scene. See more »
But it's like, being yourself is, like, not changing yourself to impress someone else.
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Written by Aaron Gilmore
Performed by RonSoCold (as Ron$oCold)
Courtesy of Ron$oCold
By arrangement with Lyrical Lemonade See more »
I wasn't going to review this film until I read the other reviews. But the way a large number of people so negatively react to this film is a testament to how powerful it really is, and perhaps says more about the film than those reviews themselves ever could.
We live in a world that hates the truth. And "Eighth Grade" is pure truth. The most remarkable thing about the film is how it refrains from dramatizing how young people today grow up and interact, and instead tries to simply show things how they are. You can argue how successful they were in this attempt, but I think they got it pretty close. And some things about growing up are timeless. While the technology may have changed, all of the things Kayla did in the film, I also did at that age. I also came from a broken home and background of trauma, and I was also not popular. One review said that you had to be a loser to like this film, and maybe there is more than a nugget of truth there. The kid who was head of the class in Grade 8 might have a tough time relating.
The film does very little to explain all this to the viewer, and does not make any attempt to show why Kayla is how she is. This is fascinating because that is exactly how our society, and in particular teen society, works: it is blind to why people are how they are, and simply ruthlessly sorts them into categories such as attractive/popular and ugly/unpopular. It seems that people who are used to going along with this way of thinking are puzzled and unsettled by the film.
What "Eighth Grade" ultimately is, is a mirror. It simply reflects back to us what our world is. There is no editorialization. So when so many people are recoiling in horror from a mirror, what does that actually say?
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