Eighth Grade (USA)
Show times: 6:30 & 8:25 pm
Director: Bo Burnham
Cast: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson
Runtime: 93 minutes
Golden Globe Nominee, Best Actress, Comedy or Musical: Elsie Fisher;
American Film Institute: Movie of the Year; Chicago Film Critics, Audience Award; National Board of Review: Best Directorial Debut. 31 other wins, 56 other nominations
“As much as (director) Burnham can be applauded, it’s impossible not to clap even harder for the pitch-perfect acting of newcomer Elsie Fisher, a marvel in the lead role of an apparently unremarkable 13-year-old.”—Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail
Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade is a movie about how small moments can define your future, but only if you let them.
It’s an assured first feature from Burnham, who up until now has been best known as a comedian, YouTube personality, and director of a few comedy specials.
Eighth Grade is a gentle, clear-eyed drama about a girl named Kayla (Elsie Fisher) in her last week of middle school, trying to figure out who she’s going to be in the face of peer pressure, her own insecurity, and the performance demands of social media.
A lesser filmmaker might spin this premise into a familiar cautionary tale of kids and the internet, but Burnham keeps the focus tight on Kayla, who copes with her misfit status by making videos espousing a confidence and style she doesn’t have; she’s faking it, but she hasn’t yet figured out that everyone around her is faking it, too.
Eighth Grade drifts along with Kayla, embodied by the gifted Fisher, who is actually a movie veteran, mostly specializing in voiceovers (Despicable Me et al) – as she nudges awkwardly toward teenhood, setting boundaries with her well-meaning dad (Josh Hamilton, low-key great), making a new, slightly older friend (Emily Robinson) and figuring out how to talk to boys.
Eighth Grade is a modest, intimate movie that contains a whole world, one that manages to make a distinctive mark in the annals of teen angst. It’s an intense time in life and Eighth Grade gets it down pat.