Eighth Grade is a film directed by Bo Burnham that follows Kayla, played by Elsie Fisher, during her last week of middle school.
I’ve heard a lot about how great this movie was so obviously my expectations were quite high. This film met, and maybe even surpassed the expectations I had for the film. One of the aspects of the film that really stood out was how realistic it felt. The movie doesn’t try to hide the language eighth graders use and how they behave, which is what really annoys me in other movies like this. Part of the realistic atmosphere was developed through the dialogue. Small little details like the constant use of words such as ‘like’ and ‘you know’ really helped build the realism. A lot of movies theses days try to look super modern by forcing technology and the interent into it. The movie pulls it off in a way that doesn’t feel forced. The use of YouTube and other social media was super effective and helped build character and develop the story.
Another part of the script that really stood out to me was the humour. I thought it was super funny and quirky , and yet another reason Bo Burnham deserves a lot of credit for the movie. None of it felt forced. A lot of the humour came from awkward situations and that’s my favourite style of humour, so I laughed quite a few times.
I don’t want to make early predictions yet, especially considering I haven’t seen a lot of the Oscar movies, but I think Eighth Grade has a good chance of getting a screenplay nomination. It has well-written and relatable characters and arcs, while also having genuinely funny moments and being a good coming of age story. I know it’s early, but I believe there is a good chance the movie could get a nomination in a few months.
Even though I adore the script for the most part, I feel like some of it feels dated. I understand that at the time of filming, and maybe even at the time of release this felt real, but the fact that Kayla says ‘gucci’ at the end of every video felt really cringey. I know there is nothing they could really do but I still feel it is worth pointing out. A teahcer also dabs in this and it was absolutley awful. In fact, it was so bad that it actually ruined a couple moments for me, which is a shame.
However, that was the only aspect of the movie I thought was bad. Everything else was pretty solid and one of the standouts was Elsie Fisher. She was an absolute revelation. I felt like she managed to pull off a lot of the raw emotion that the movie needed from her. One of my favourite parts about her performance was how she managed to convey her nervousness and anxiety on screen. We also really see her portray subtle details and character growth in the YouTube videos really well. I also enjoyed the cinematography while she’s shooting the videos.
Easily the best bit of acting from Elsie Fisher was the car scene. Everyone was talking about it after the movie and for good reason. It is super intense and I felt super scared for the character. This was the PERFECT showcase of her acting ability and was a pretty scary scene. In my opinion it wasn’t as good as the one from Hereditary, but then again that scene was fantastic and the fact that I’m even comparing the scene in Eighth Grade to the one in Hereditary shows how brilliant the scene is.
The chemistry between the actors was also really strong. I thought the Dad played by Josh Hamilton was super funny and the back and forth interactions between him and Kayla were fantastic. They also share an extremely emotional scene towards the end that was one of the best parts. Another emotional scene was the final video. It felt like the character had grown and it ended on a solid note.
To conclude, Eighth Grade is a tremendous film for debut director Bo Burnham that benefits from a stunning script, wonderful performances and great characters. Overall, this movie gets an A- from me.