Eighth Grade (2018)

Here we go, the first official review on the BraveReviews website! And, as seems to be often the case, it’s a movie which happens to be a fairly recent release.

EIGHTH GRADE is the feature film directorial debut of once-YouTuber and comedian Bo Burnham. It follows Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) during her last week of classes in middle school. Kayla regularly posts a series of motivational videos to YouTube, but ironically she’s quite the opposite of the confident, inspired persona she exerts online, as she is heavily addicted to social media, struggles excessively with social anxiety, has virtually no friends at school, and clashes with her single father (Josh Hamilton).

Fisher shines throughout this classic A24 movie with a truly genuine performance that is not only personally relatable on many levels, but also probably the most honest and accurate depiction of a modern-day middle school experience I’ve seen. As you might expect, Burnham had his own struggles with anxiety which influenced the screenplay; even though I obviously didn’t have the same experiences as Kayla did here, I was still reminded at times of my own social issues which were very prevalent in my own transition from middle school to high school, and while they have diminished significantly, I must admit that they are not completely eradicated.

The cinematography includes wide-lens shots and awkward close-ups to augment this realism, while the soundtrack, mainly comprising an electronic score by Anna Meredith but also attaching a few existing songs such as, of all things, “Orinoco Flow” by Enya, also plays a larger-than-usual role in her day-to-day experiences.

In a sharp twist of irony, this film received an “R” rating (which, of course, requires anyone under 17 to be accompanied by an adult in theaters) for its profanity and some rather out-there sexual references. Even so, I still recommend it for its humanity and its very truthful look at Generation Z-era adolescence.