Eighth Grade ★★★½

61/100

Burnham was an unknown quantity to me (could not name a single YouTube celebrity with a gun to my head, in fact—first cultural shift that legitimately makes me feel old), so I had no expectations regarding tone or subject matter and didn't experience the pleasant surprise that others have noted. Just saw a solid, slightly overemphatic portrait of awkward adolescence that plays like significantly less cruel Solondz. Fine by me. Schematic plotting (e.g. introducing the high schooler Kayla "shadows"—with whom I sort of fell in love entirely on the basis of her unfailing compassion—as a means of engineering the younger girl's emotional nadir) are balanced by admirably realistic thorniness (e.g. said nadir, the truth or dare game, which by sheer coincidence plays like the tentative teen version of Aziz Ansari's reported date from hell). I tend to resist films that solicit my sympathy this aggressively, but Elsie Fisher's raw wound of a performance gradually wore me down. And Josh Hamilton gets to play Stuhlbarg's Call Me by Your Name dad crossed with Balaban's Ghost World dad, which is a fun combo.