RALPH Says EIGHTH GRADE Is Absolutely Wonderful.

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FILM REVIEW: EIGHTH GRADE

BY RALPH LINARDIC

Remember in middle school, when you talked to the girl/guy you liked, and faced embarrassing rejection? Remember the non-stop sweating, the acne, and the half-assed homework? If any of these memories ring a bell? Well, Eighth Grade is the film that will bring back fond and not so fond moments from your adolescence.

Eighth Grade is a middle school experience that audiences will not want to miss out on. This year’s Love, Simon is terrific, but Bo Burnham’s directorial debut is on another level. Burnham’s take on Kayla, a 13-year-old teenage girl with anxiety, is why the movie works so well. Him being a twenty-seven-year-old white male, nails the voice of a 13-year-old trying to get through the final week of middle school. Kayla is essentially Burnham as a teenager, as he dealt with a lot of anxiety, bullying, and awkward experiences. Any director who can create a character as relatable as Kayla, is a name to look out for in the future. The film nails every element of the it’s story and characters, but Burnham is the connective tissue that brings it all together.

Kayla, Elsie Fisher, is the other connective tissue of this spectacular film. Many teenage/coming-of-age films use flawless looking twenty-one-year old’s to play middle schoolers. With Eighth Grade, Elsie Fisher breaks the cycle in that regard. Elsie has acne, speaks like a true thirteen-year-old, and captures the spirit of the awkwardness of these years perfectly. It’s refreshing to have an age accurate actress. Elsie Fisher will be a star in the film industry for years to come, and Eighth Grade will be looked back at fondly as the star of her stardom.

As previously mentioned, director Bo Burnham used his anxiety as a reference for Kayla’s own anxiety, and it was amazingly accurate. As someone with social anxiety, the film showed so many scenarios that I’ve been in. From hiding in bathrooms to avoid social interaction, to pretending to text your friends to not look lonely, it was almost therapeutic to see Kayla deal with the pressure.

Personally, coming-of-age is my favorite genre and that may be because I missed out on a lot during my childhood due to my anxiety, so I look back on those days as possible potential. With that being said, I use these films to experience what I missed out on. This film was a true experience I felt connect to and while I view this as a perfect movie, some of the jokes do feel forced. Bo Burnham is known for his comedy, so having a view jokes in the film is expected. However, the film takes itself very seriously. Kids act like goof balls in the movie (expected, kids are stupid), but the drama between Kayla and her friends is as realistic as it gets.

If you see two movies this year, see Avengers: Infinity War, and then Eighth Grade. This coming-of-age movie is a true realistic one. The film is a horrifically grounded take on a thirteen year-olds-life and is told wonderfully by Burnham.

 

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