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Review: Eighth Grade, 2018

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Director: Bo Burnham
Writer: Bo Burnham
Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson

This week, back to back, I saw two absolutely fantastic films by debut filmmakers. Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You is one of the year’s best, and Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade might be THE best movie of the year. I was completely taken with this film. I related to it on so many levels and ,by the end, found it heartbreaking just how similar life is to 8th Grade. It’s like we never left this tumultuous, chaotic era of our lives.

The performances in Eighth Grade are absolutely fantastic, most notably Elsie Fisher and Josh Hamilton as daughter and father. There’s a scene they share that I straight up just balled through the entirety of. Stories about parents always get me, but this really got me.

I was really taken with Burnham’s film making too. Simple and controlled, he uses fades and cross cuts to great, artistic effect, creating some beautiful images and excellent thematic juxtapositions. The way Kayla’s (Fisher) YouTube videos are layered over her final days as an 8th Grader illustrates how she uses the Internet to project her desires onto herself through an online persona. It’s a really interesting investigation of the way we use the Internet, and I think something only a person like Burnham, who grew up with the Internet even more so than I did, could illustrate so deftly.

He also has an excellent sense of how and when to use both score and needle drops. The music in Eighth Grade is excellent and used to create both humor and emotion, sometimes simultaneously.

I really loved this movie. It is unflinching in its depiction of the horrors of youth, but also a lovingly crafted ode to the people we never seem to realize we are in the moment, no matter what stage of life we’re at. Just a flawless, emotional movie. As Ebert once referred to movies, it’s the kind of empathy machine we need movies to be in 2018.

Score: ★★★★★

This review originally appeared on Garrett’s Letterboxd. Follow him there for more ratings, reviews, and lists.

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