Eighth Grade Reviews
The acting was great and felt really natural for the characters.
The ending didn't feel like it resolved everything. There still felt like more that could have been done. The amount of pop culture references and modern calls took me out of the film every now and then.
Before I saw this I had heard nothing but great things about it, and I still think it's good however I feel it's just a little overrated. This is definitely not the best film of the year and most likely won't go down as a classic film.
Overall the story and feels were on point!
The film opens with Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) recording a vlog for her YouTube Channel 'Kayla's Korner' giving handful-sized audience advice on how to be themselves authentically, despite the many anxieties that dot the minefield of tweenage life; a device that Burnham makes great use of throughout the film. After that, there is a beautifully awkward montage of Kayla cloaking herself in the beauty tips and fellow YouTube personalities she deems more beautiful, poised, and more confident than she. This sets the tone for the movie perfectly; confused young person, someone who feels isolated and at war with the rest of the world in a way that only being 13 can make real. She has a lovably dorky, admirably try-hard father played perfectly understated by Josh Hamilton. His conversations with his onscreen daughter usually begin (and often end) with things like "School was good?", "Can I just say one thing?" And many other awkwardly familiar conversation starters that will surely bring to mind the myriad of similar situations from your own life.
The choice of costume for Kayla's daily ensemble is an appropriately young look that somehow always seems to be just a quarter-step behind her peers. And it's apparently what she thinks, too. As in one scene where she clumsily makes her way over to another girl to thank her for the (parentally forced) birthday invite, and during the conversation she says "I really like our shirt, I have a shirt, too." There are also quite a few reminders that the world these young people inhabit has changed in the 25 years since I was that age with all the smartphones that dot the movie throughout and the tragic necessity of a school shooter drill is made apparent by the way it's treated in the film; utterly mundane.
Some things remind me that being 13 hasn't changed all that much in many (very important) ways. Kayla brims with nervous joy as Olivia (Emily Robinson), Kayla's high school shadow partner invites her to the mall, and she tosses her phone in the excitement... And suddenly remembers to pick it up and accept the invitation. She's an asshole to her dad as she tries to find herself amidst the hormones and perpetual anxiety, whoosh can be off-putting but she never loses our sympathies. She constantly gives herself advice that tells us who she wants to be.
Without giving away what makes this film a standout debut, I can safely say that this movie is as authentic to the experience it portrays as it possibly can be. The movie doesn't condescend either its featured age group nor the audience. And Mr. Burnham's directorial style clearly indicates that work many talented YouTubers, he was once a single person production crew, intimately familiar with all the moving parts. I have a sneaking suspicion that he will not be the only one... And I for one, welcome the fresh blood. If I have only one hope for audience members who choose to see this film, it's that we look back on our adolescence with more care and understanding and that perhaps we are able to extend that same empathy to the young people in our own lives.