Once every 10 minutes an innocent friend of mine gets sent a Bo Burnham YouTube video to watch. After the first time I watched his stand up special Make Happy on Netflix, I was so enamoured that I immediately googled whether Bo had a girlfriend, because obviously if he didn’t that would mean we would probs be getting married imminently.
(Here’s his YouTube channel. DO IT.)
Long (and creepy) story short: I like Bo Burnham. So why god WHY has it taken almost a year for us to get an Eighth Grade release in the UK?! Can nothing good happen in this country?
Golden Globe nominated Eighth Grade is Bo’s (we’re on first name terms) directorial debut, with him also penning the script. It’s an intense look into the life of Eighth Grader Kayla as she finishes middle school and starts to prepare for high school – and it is a wonderful 93 mins long.
Elsie Fisher. She is what makes this film so brilliant – she plays the socially inept Kayla with such genuine, honest, cringe inducing rawness that it would be impossible not to be endeared to her. From the first 30 seconds, where we see her recording one of her painfully awkward YouTube videos (topics such as ‘How to be Confident’ making the whole thing so much worse), I was totally rooting for her.
It’s physically impossible not to fall for Kayla and by the end of the film I was in tears. Which is nothing new for me obvs, but this is really notably moving.
Her character development over the short running time is an absolute joy to watch, and you could hear everyone in the full cinema laughing with relief every time Kayla got even the smallest win. But Elsie’s performance wouldn’t be possible without the brilliant script – how he’s managed to write such an accurate portrayal of teenage awkwardness and the horror of being a self-conscious 14 year old is a testament to his genius PLEASE MARRY ME BO BURNHAM.
The music is also really memorable, with an intense synth-y techno soundtrack that starts and stops suddenly in time with the drama unfolding.
In the first half of the film, some of Kayla’s behaviour is so cringe inducing that I literally had to cover my face a couple of times. You could sense everyone in the audience squirming in their seats – which again is a huge testament to how skilful her acting is and how merciless the script is, but it is at times just too painful to watch.
If you can bear to cringe your way through the first half, the pay off is so worth it. I can’t wait to see what both Bo Burnham and Elsie Fisher do next! …Is it bad that it feels weird when I’m this nice about a film?