Eighth Grade (2019) – Dir Bo Burnham

 

Bo Burnham follows up The Big Sick with this brilliant telling of a teenage girl in her last week of eighth grade before starting high school.

Elsie Fisher plays Kayla, a shy and anxiety suffering school girl who also has a secret life where she makes motivational YouTube videos. These video’s offer advice that she struggles to take herself as she finds it difficult to make friends and join in social events.

Burnham has created a masterpiece of realism. Both terrifying and comforting to watch as a parent, this film always achieves a natural feel to the situations Kayla finds herself in. The writing is brilliant and matched by the superb performance from Elsie Fisher, as she faces her fears while navigating boys, social media, drugs, sex and growing up without her mother.

She really makes you feel her anxiety of going to a party where she doesn’t really know anyone, talking to her first crush or the excitement of being taken in by older high school kids. Which brings me onto a central scene in the movie that will have you (parents especially) gripping your seats and praying Kayla makes the right choice.

Josh Hamilton (Manchester by the Sea) plays Kayla’s rather awkward father, struggling to cope with bringing his daughter up alone. The highlight of the film for me was an incredible moment when he explains how he feels about Kayla. A moment that could have been cheesy (he actually warns its going to be) is anything but as he pours his heart out to Kayla about how proud he is. Again the writing is top notch.

Rating- 8/10 – A film that is realistic, honest and told from the point of view of a teenage girl. Made Barack Obama’s top 10 films of last year.

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