larissakeer’s review published on Letterboxd :
an outstanding directorial debut by burnham. i've always loved his comedy since middle school so it's exciting to see my eighth grade comedy idol create a film about, quite possibly, the worst years of my life. yet thats the message of eighth grade, that those years may be the worst, may be the times when you are hardest on yourself, but you need to forgive yourself, and allow room to grow.
the scene with kayla and her father by the fire may bring me to tears every time i watch it. seeing how loving and caring her father was, how much he insisted that she was the coolest, smartest and loveliest girl was everything i wish i was told at that age. i always worried that i made my parents sad or disappointed, if i had been open with them about my feelings, maybe they could've helped. at that age, i didn't know any better so i buried it all down. how i wish i had that conversation, how i wish i had that reassurance.
the summer after eighth grade, i cut off all my hair, delved into a deep identity/sexuality crisis and was dealing with depression. i used to self-harm in middle and high school just to make myself feel alive, but i did it for attention too. like kayla, i was lost in the crowd. i had friends but none that i could rely on or felt safe with. boys didn't show any interest in me, and if they did, it quickly became the car scene (which shattered me in an entirely different way, a way which made me want to curl around kayla and protect her for years to come). truth or dare, 20 questions, NEVER play them with boys.
kayla really is the coolest girl in the world. i hope she knows that. i hope she knows she'll have friends and find love and grow into an amazing person, because eighth grade me needed to know that too.