Comedian and now writer/ director Bo Burnham has created one of the most real and most relatable films of the year so far.
His directorial debut, "Eighth Grade," is an outstanding achievement, ranking it up with the levels of Barry Jenkins's "Moonlight" and Greta Gerwig's "Lady Bird." Elsie Fisher stars as Kayla, a shy eighth-grader who desires to make friends and survive the rest of her final year in middle school before moving on to high school. Through this, she learns the importance of being yourself and, more importantly, about the process of growing up.
Things can seem hopeless at that age, but once you get to know people and put yourself out there, it's not as bad as it seems.
The film is beautiful in its own quirky way. Its level of realism takes audiences right into Kayla's life, and makes us empathetic through her character. She, of course, goes through many ups and downs, just as any eighth-grader does. Kayla experiences loads of anxiety and sadness, while also being an incredibly positive and lovable person. She gets nervous at pool parties, likes the stereotypical "bad boy" but can't seem to talk to him, and is constantly embarrassed by her father's love for her.
What eighth-grader doesn't go through that type of stuff?
Fisher (fun fact: she's the voice of the youngest girl in "Despicable Me") gives a relatable performance as Kayla that will surely put her on the map for more indie films like this one. She conveys her character very well and delivers one of the finest young performances in recent years, up there with Jacob Trembly in "Room," Milly Shapiro in "Hereditary" and Brooklyn Prince in "The Florida Project."
"Eighth Grade" is also incredibly funny and heartfelt. Its screenplay is superbly done, making for an excellent story.
"Eighth Grade" is also one of the most well-constructed movies of the year, with its impeccable direction and use of music. It receives great performances all around and a finely directed central performance that steals the show. It's one of those films that should receive some Oscar recognition but probably won't because its unknown to many.
This sweet little coming-of-age story has a lot to it, but what's most important to know is that it'll give you "the feels." Just as Elsie experiences the ups and downs of eighth grade, so do we.
The entire film is quite touching and will definitely make you smile.
THE LOWDOWN ON 'EIGHTH GRADE'
Best scene: Pool party
Best supporting character: Gabe