Eighth Grade (2018): is a comedy/drama distributed by A24 (god bless), and written and directed by Bo Burnham in his directorial debut. Starring Elsie Fisher, the film is about an eighth-grader on the verge of finishing high school, addressing the social angst that comes with adolescence, exacerbated by social media.
I had only heard good things about Eighth Grade, so I finally decided to watch it, and I can certainly see what the raving was about, even if it did come up a little short of my expectations.
Growing up is a difficult task, especially in today’s age as countless social media platforms are integrated into society, affecting everyone, no matter your age. These platforms coerce individuals to construct fake narratives about themselves and their lives, leading to a culture of mass judgement, and consequently, a heightened sense of angst. Sure, popularity and judgement have always existed, but more so now than ever before. Not only are individuals required to engage physically and hang out with people, but they are also encouraged to post about it and build another identity online.
Eighth Grade is all about growing up in a tech-savvy generation where screens are at our fingertips, before our eyes and at the forefront of our lives, detailing the implications this has had on our attitudes, expectations and ideas. It does this in a refreshingly genuine way, trailing an eighth grader named Kayla Day who runs her own YouTube channel about being yourself and being confident, which runs directly contrary to her real outlook and actions; much like individuals who create a false image for themselves.
Despite the focus on social constructions and fake images, the film is always grounded and real. Even the lead actress doesn’t appear to be wearing any makeup (although, it could simply have been made to look this way), emphasizing that image isn’t everything and that we need to learn to socialise in a proper, considerate way without judgement – it does this without attacking the audience, separating itself from other films which try to say a similar thing, but end up being forceful. (CONTINUED IN COMMENTS)