Eighth Grade (2018)

Directed by Bo Burnham

Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school — the end of her thus far disastrous eighth grade year — before she begins high school.

This film is a highly-convincing portrait of an aggressively normal eighth-grader growing up in the internet-inflected 2010s. It lacks almost all of the usual hokey touches of teen films ("Since your mom died…", etc.), the tone of the film is disarmingly naturalistic. Not only does it have compelling teen actors, Eighth Grade has an engaging formal agenda too: it makes an interesting artistic choice by selecting a very loud, lively and optimistic-sounding soundtrack that often disappears back to the usual volume. This stark contrast could be said to reflect something of how growing up is punctuated with capital-M 'Moments' followed by relatively uninteresting emptiness. A welcome complement to some of the pseudo-depth of a John Green novel.


The fact that Bo Burnham, a man in his late twenties, is behind this film is nothing short of miraculous given its accuracy.


Like any addiction, [being online] presents itself as the solution to the very problems it causes.

In so many of the films that deal with adolescence, teenagers who initially seem ordinary are revealed to be special in some secret way. Kayla is not special.

Imogen West-Knights (Another Gaze)