Eighth Grade

I’m not sure how he’s managed to do it, but first time filmmaker Bo Burnham has somehow managed to not only break my heart, not only remind me of the absolute trauma that is growing up, but he’s also made me laugh harder than I have with a film in a very long time. Putting it simply, Bo Burnham is the voice of our generation.

I had completely disregarded that terribly awkward stage of my life until now. I knew it was a bit rubbish, you might not always have known where you stood with your friends, sometimes you would shout at your parents, but this film reminded me of why. And the guilt that ensued and all the other complex emotions that came with being a teenage girl. And yet it’s written by a man?! A comedian?! Burnham has captured our generation uncannily well. It’s rare to see films that are so current when films so often feel like they’ve aged before they’ve even hit the screens. By giving a young man who is actually engaging with our generation, who is so active on the internet, the money to make a film, we’ve finally found the voice that captures what’s been happening to us all these years. I was surprised when I heard Vine references and saw the sheer volume of phones on screen, and then I remembered it was because we never normally see this. Kids are rarely seen on their phones in films which is madness because when you look around any room with young people in, it’s saturated with them. He’s caught the very core of our society, or culture or whatever you want to call it, fleshed it out into a script and then somehow shot it in a way that is not only the very pure truth, but is somehow inherently funny at the same time.

Elsie Fisher is so unbelievably talented in
the central role. There’s no airbrushing or inauthenticity with her. However
much I enjoyed Edge of Seventeen, the
unavoidable truth that Hailee Seinfeld just wasn’t an awkward teen never left
the heart of the narrative. I didn’t truly believe in her. Whereas Fischer is this girl. She completely dissolves
into the character.

Josh Hamilton will truly break you as he portrays Fisher’s on screen father. Burnham managed to avoid any of the tired emotional clichés. It could have been so easy for him to emotionally exploit us with an easy scene including the absence of her mother. Instead, he brings forward the nuances of growing up, places that in the foreground and forces us to confront our own behaviour growing up. My god, the guilt I felt while watching this film. I love my parents, but growing up is hard and sometimes that meant you would shout, you wouldn’t even know why but it would happen. Like your parents had this innate ability to annoy you just by breathing. Yet here, Burnham forces us to confront this horrific element of growing up. He forces us to see the pain that this causes her father. And, of course we all knew that it wasn’t nice to be rude, but actually being confronted with the face of that man after Fisher had stormed out of the room caused me to address a few things. Thank you Bo Burnham. Thank you for giving our generation a voice. Thank you for reminding me how hard teenagers have it. And above all, thank you for allowing me to laugh while doing so.

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Fiona Hughes

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