Eighth Grade – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Eighth Grade – 4/5 – Coming of age films are one of my favorites to watch on the big screen.  No matter the setting, this genre grips my heart and takes me to a place of pure sensations.  Watching the ‘growth’ of character(s) through a certain journey brings a relatable window to my own life.  Eighth Grade is a coming-of-age story that focuses on middle school.  Through its raw lens, it provides a defining perspective that can grip anyone.  With great acting, honest storytelling and a realistic journey, Eighth Grade will have you living your childhood once again.

Premise:  We follow Kayla, an eighth grader who tries to find a balance between life in school and online.  Being an introvert, she struggles to find her place in this modern world.

Playing the lead role of Kayla is Elsie Fisher.  Fisher does a great job in the role, presenting a genuine perspective of a preteen in the 21st century.  Through a delicate balance of truthful dialogue and awkwardness, you get that subtle conflicts on a personal scale.  The insight is raw, breaking the typical archetype found in most coming-of-age tales centered on adolescents.  Fisher personifies the ideals of innocence, creating authentic layers of emotions that makes the audience feel her happiness, anxieties and fears.  That raw reflection creates an uneasy but realistic perception that makes this a stand out performance.  For the rest of the actors/actresses, please refer to the film’s IMDb page.  The secondary cast are amazing.  No matter if it’s the father, other preteens or random characters (in the film), there is a sense of frailty that exudes on an individual scale.  It provides a glimpse into the innocence and growth that is distinct to each character.  This allows for the secondary cast to become ‘real’ people, having relative traits to real life situations.

The direction takes the ideals of the ‘Slice of Life’ tropes and combines it within a setting that blends the unfamiliar with relative traits.  By taking a specific setting (middle school) and directing through ‘real-life’ concepts, it allows for situations to dictate characterization and plot progression.  With this perspective, it creates a scope of decorative emotions that mirror pure insight of a preteen trying to find her place in the world.  There are certain ‘teen’ clichés used as the basis in the script, but the director drives a uniqueness of the time for development.  By pressing forward how Kayla lives and grows through the confines of social media, a single father and middle school, it encapsulates the reasons for what preteens encounter in the 21st century.  It blends awkwardness with authenticity, using general plot devices to mold with concepts of youthfulness and tenacity.  This layers normalcy through Kayla’s life, showing how her use of mobile devices and broadband is a mimic of any era of adolescence.  By having that sense of relatability, it creates a genuine perspective.  There is an understanding of why she uses certain websites/apps as comfort to her struggles with real-life interactions.  This blends the expositional elements with smart dialogue, showing the struggles of identity and relationships within this current generation.  Kayla’s ambiguity of discovering things parallels the concept of finding yourself in the unknown.  All the drama/comedy comes across lively, taking simple interactions and making them feel as if you are there with Kayla.  Once you make it to the final act, it becomes a rolling list of Kayla’s dilemmas, providing answers that are cliché but wholesome.  This leads to a climax where understanding ‘what is’ becomes a book of possibilities.  The epilogue ends everything on a high note, providing a ‘send-off’ message of what to look forward to as you grow up.

The cinematography takes the familiar and grounds it within a cinematic journey.  By taking generalities of middle school, it provides that sandbox of relatable things (for any age).  This allows for characters to grow in an organic fashion, striking a believable thread with heartfelt moments.  The score is what you would expect for any coming-of-age tale.

Eighth Grade takes the familiar and injects it with an honesty of modern day.  By providing a sensible lens of social media with characterization, it gives a perspective to how growing up today isn’t any different than other generations.  With great acting and a relatable story, Eighth Grade stands out as one of the best films of the year.  If you’re a fan of coming-of-age tales or great filmmaking, this is one for you.  This is worth the full price at the theaters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *