It’s Kayla’s (Elsie Fisher) final week in eighth grade before she heads to high school and we get to follow her as she experiences the growing pains of being a teenager.
First and foremost, some research I had to do prior to watching this film. Eighth Grade is the U.S. equivalent of Year 9 for British people.
Written and directed by Bo Burnham for his debut feature, Eighth Grade is a little unusual for a coming of age film as it is set in the modern day. So instead of a rose tinted nostalgic view of the world that most films of this genre are, it’s far more uncomfortable. Whilst perfectly encapsulating the horrendously awkward and difficult times that are your teenage years it does so in the full grip of the social media age. With all the teenagers completely obsessed with their phones and computers and the additional pressures that come with them.
The film is completely from the perspective of Kayla. We see her reflected in the light of her phone and laptop and quite often the camera will start in close on her perspective before slowly panning out to show the bigger picture. Elsie Fisher’s performance is very brave and very good.
Personally, whilst I can appreciate its achievements I didn’t enjoy watching this for a number of reasons. Whilst it captured the awkwardness of being a teenager I’m too old to relate to the social media obsession it portrays. I found myself relating far more to Kayla’s father (Josh Hamilton) and found myself worrying about my children’s upcoming future on their phones. It is also very much a female view of the world in the present day which I don’t relate to.