Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Review: Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade
Cert: 15 / 94 mins / Dir. Bo Burnman / Trailer

Well, when the day comes and Richard Linklater decides to hang up his clapperboard, he can be sure that his legacy lives on. Eighth Grade is precisely the sort of meandering, chin stroking, self-indulgence that the Boyhood helmsman excels in, only this time from the pen of Bo Burnham - a 28yr old man who's here to explain to us all what it's like to be a 14yr old girl. Thanks for that, mate*1.


Covering the final weeks of Kayla (Elsie Fisher)'s titular eighth grade before she makes the move to high school, it's clear the film is meant to be about the perceived isolation and uncertainty of adolescence in volatile social environments. Ostensibly a study of that experience in the 21st century, the deeper the film goes the more apparent it becomes that it actually applies to all teenagers, irrespective of era or indeed gender. The technology may change, but the neuroses don't.

That's the idea, anyhow. What also becomes clear is that Eighth Grade is a film so dramatically and scriptually generic that it appears to have been cobbled together by Burham just watching and reading other media, and without speaking to any teenagers other than his cast.


Credit where it's due, Fisher is pretty great here. She's just great at playing a someone I didn't want to be around, and that's with her as probably the most sympathetic character in the film. Kayla spends the 94 minute runtime being alternately bored, annoyed, embarrassed and disappointed. And if the film succeeds at anything, it's that I know exactly how she feels.

Between this and Jonah Hill's Mid90s, A24's message*2 this year seems to be that it's always been crap to be an introverted teenager. It's okay I remember, thanks.


In all fairness I absolutely, resolutely and definitively would not want to be a teenage girl in 2019, with all the shit thrown at you by the world from every direction. But I'm sure there has to be a better way to communicate that plight than this film.

Ultimately, I suppose Eighth Grade is a lot like growing up itself; excruciating at the time, yet when you look back objectively it probably wasn't that bad.

But would I want to go through either again?
Hahaha, hell no.

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
Think of a prequel to Everybody Wants Some!! but without the booze or the soundtrack.

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?
It is not.

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
Oh, I have no idea.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Elsie Fisher promises great things.

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?
Hahaha, hell yes.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: Josh Hamilton's in this, and he was in that Dark Skies along with Kerry 'soon to be starring in Episode IX' Russell.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Although to illustrate that I'm an equal-opportunities curmudgeon, I'll take a moment to say that the only thing more annoying than Bo Burnham's characters and Bo Burnam's writing is Anna Meredith's kooky soundtrack. Christ, it sounds like a fire alarm going off in a Bontempi factory. [ BACK ]

*2 Although on the subject of that most hipster of entertainment companies, it hasn't escaped my attention that I've taken against Eighth Grade in almost exactly the same way as many took against the ponderous, melancholy A Ghost Story - a hard-to-like film which I loved. But there we go. Perhaps if more people had died in this..? [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

No comments:

Post a Comment