Eighth Grade by Bo Burnham is now available for streaming on Netflix. Starring Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade was first released in 2018.
Most recognisable as an American singer-songwriter comic, Bo Burnham knows how to brilliantly and intellectually raise introspection on art and self-identity within comedy. Previous shows include what. and Make Happy, which are both available for streaming on Netflix.
Turning to the cinema, Bo began his acting career by co-starring in The Big Sick. First appearing alongside SNL performers Aidy Bryant, and Kumail Nanjiani, Burnham cemented himself as a great actor as well as a comedian.
Translating his skills and applying them further as director, Burnham masterfully weaved a coming of age classic. Comparable to classics like Perks of Being A Wallflower and Little Miss Sunshine, Eighth Grade deserves all of its praise.
Elsie Fisher stars as socially awkward lead Kayla Day. Fisher brilliantly captures the youth and innocence of puberty, aptly nominated for her performance at the Golden Globes.
Fisher brilliantly captures the journey of self-development and identity. Specifically as to how we expect to change during our teens and using life milestones as a point of reflection. Day’s life is in flux as her relationships change around her. Her single father, her own confidence, her classmates, and those that extend outside her current social circle. Everything is in turmoil and there is no worse time than during puberty.
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What makes this film triumph is when it shows its exceptional emotional weight. Appreciating the awkwardness of teenage angst, Eighth Grade shows how teens struggle with identity. In addition, it shows the constant need for adults to seem relevant, struggling with their increasing age.
Also, Burnham’s ability to make this film so relatable and personal feels oddly tailored. There were multiple instances where I personally related to Bo’s reflection of childhood reducing me to tears. As mentioned, Elsie’s portrayal of relationships for Kayla’s character is ultimately where this film has its greatest strengths. There were countless occasions where I was often cringing or reacting, not for the sake of Kayla, but because I remember how I reacted in similar situations, but yet much like Kayla, knew no better because of the immaturity of the transitionary age.
Needless to mention as the film is written by Bo, a former comic, the scripts excels in its comedy. The film is as emotionally poignant as it hysterically cringes, and this cringe encapsulates the development of Kayla’s character as she learns and matures.
For example, there is a brilliant scene featuring McDonald’s and their sauces that carries so much weight and maturing for Fisher’s character, all the while Burnham is able to interweave comedy within it.
Overall this film is a perfect time capsule on youth and the awkwardness of it. Sexuality, self-identity, confidence and maturity. A masterpiece of writing, and an exceptional performance by Elsie Fisher. While I do feel this film will be dated in five years, and possibly ten, I do believe that will add to the themes Bo demonstrates excellently about timeliness and development.