REVIEW: Eighth Grade
Last month my brother wrote an article for the Georgetown Voice about this movie.
It was just as amazing as everything else he writes, so go read that first. I would kick a small dog very hard to be as insightful, and as eloquent, and as talented as him. (Miss you Timmy.)
But the thing is, even after reading that excellently written piece of inspired commentary, I didn’t catch this movie in theaters. I had just one too many lazy days at home wasting my time on the internet instead of keeping up with indie cinema.
A few weeks back I bought a dvd copy as an impulse purchase after a long shift at Barnes and Noble.
Man, do I feel like a freakin’ idiot for not picking it up sooner.
In short, Eighth Grade is about a sad, anxious, girl, with very few friends, having a really hard junior high experience. She does her best to meet the hardships of life head on as her transition to high school approaches.
As far as plot goes, Eighth Grade is the tightest film of 2018: not a character goes underutilized, there are no throw away lines, and everything, literally everything is important and justifies its own existence.
The visual choices service the themes and create a very intimate tone. Lighting is taken from naturally unnatural sources to emphasize the disconnected connectivity we experience in the modern age. Handheld cameras provide the tiniest shakes to create a sense of uncertainty that you just barely process. Soft tones of blue and yellow dip across seas of emotional close ups. There’s a slickness to it that is also very rough; an amazing oxymoron.
The performances are a cut above. Top drawer. The bee’s knees. The vulnerability is palpable in each scene, compelling you ever forward into an all too familiar world of pre-teen horribleness…which is rather like adult horribleness.
Okay, I don’t think I can write about this more without getting personal and very un-film review-y.
Yeah, screw it. Let’s do this thing.
I had a hard time in college.
Probably not an abnormally hard time based on the discussions I’ve had with a few people close to me, but I was sad, and anxious, and I had very few friends.
The ones I did have were usually busy, or abroad, or wanted to spend their free time with people other than me. I was working at least 2 jobs, usually 3, and I never slept. For a few years there the most human interaction I got outside of a classroom/office was through CVS greeters.
I spent my 21st birthday alone, in a room with the lightbulb out, eating a full stuffed crust pizza and watching anime in bed.
My grades were high and I was living in California and learning so much about the profession I deeply love, but ultimately, I had a really. hard. time.
Eighth Grade is about a sad, anxious, girl, with very few friends, having a really hard junior high experience.
Not hard in that her circumstance is particularly abnormal. Hard in the sense that life is hard… and it is by the way. For everyone.
It’s hard to make friends, it’s hard to grow up, it’s hard to exist on this earth. Especially right now.
But Eighth Grade is about learning to value yourself despite that.
(It’s about a lot of other things too but I’m trying to write a blog post not a thesis.)
It’s about facing the phone shaped shame box in your pocket and saying not today. It’s about learning to appreciate what you have and the people you have it with. It’s about picking yourself up after a really hard experience, acknowledging that life is really just one big hard experience, and living on the best way you possibly can: with self-acceptance.
You have value.
Even when I didn’t realize it in college, and I was lonely, and sad, and having a really hard time.
This movie made me remember that.
Everyone should go buy it. Or rent it. Or see it. Or whatever.