Eighth Grade

 

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The actor and comedian Bo Burnham makes his directorial debut with one of the best-observed comedies of the year.

 

Eighth Grade

Elsie Fisher

 

On a second viewing of Bo Burnham’s delightful film (I first saw it at last year’s London Sundance Film Festival), I still found it as fresh and original. My first impression when the story begins with a heavily made-up young girl talking directly to camera was that here we go again: another American teenage angst movie. But the film soon changes gear as we get to know the awkward 13-year-old protagonist, Kayla (Elsie Fisher), who feels like a fish out of water in most situations, especially now that she is at the end of eighth grade just before high school… 

 

You don’t have to be a teenage girl to identify with Kayla’s predicament. It is such a welcoming film with an ordinary person with real anxieties and insecurities right in the centre of the story. Fisher is terrific as the vulnerable, shy heroine who begins to grow in confidence when she creates her online blog and gives advice to other kids facing similar problems. She can be really stroppy but her scenes with her loving, single father Mark (Josh Hamilton) are funny, tender, honest and true. Bo Burnham makes a remarkable directorial debut with one of the best-observed comedies of the year.

 

GEORGE SAVVIDES

 

Cast: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson, Jake Ryan, Fred Hechinger.

 

Dir Bo Burnham, Pro Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, Lila Yacoub and Christopher Storer, Screenplay Bo Burnham, Ph Andrew Wehde, Pro Des Sam Lisenco, Ed Jennifer Lilly, Music Anna Meredith, Costumes Mitchell Travers.

 

A24/IAC Films/Scott Rudin Productions-Sony Pictures.
93 mins. USA. 2018. Rel: 26 April 2019. Cert. 15.