Sunday, January 20, 2019

Eighth Grade

Movie Name: Eighth Grade
Year of Release: 2018
Director: Bo Durnham
Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan, Daniel Zolghadri, Fred Hechinger
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6 
Watch on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Bo Durnham has made a career for himself as a standup comedian/performer, and "Eighth Grade" is his directorial debut in narrative film. The film follows the story of Kayla, during her last week in middle school. Kayla is a somewhat introverted girl, who reaches out to the world, through social media, namely through Instagram, Snapchat and making motivational videos on Youtube. She lives with her caring and supporting father, who try as he might, is always faced with a block of rejection or silence from Kayla. She's equally quiet at school, save for when she goes to the high school she'll be joining, where she has to shadow one of the students there. She makes quick friends with Olivia, who in turns opens Kayla social dynamics a bit further with unexpected results.
"Eighth Grade" is a film that closes in on the experiences of going to middle school, through the eyes of a somewhat introverted young girl. It gives some insight into what teenagers dabble in and are interested in, with the advent of social media, where everyone has a podium to advertise their ideas on virtually anything and everything. It's a film that is almost voyeuristic, in the sense that it tries to capture all the motivations and aspirations of the young Kayla, but somehow falls short of doing so. She mostly comes across as someone awkward, trying to reach out to others through those devices, but who struggles to even communicate with her father, who is indeed her fan and supporter. It's an interesting portrait of adolescence, more anchored in observational situations, than in uncovering what underlies the angst of these young people in general, and of this character in particular. Elsie Fisher manages to create an interesting character, as does Josh Hamilton, an underrated character actor, who deserves more screen time in his next films. An interesting debut.