Eighth Grade ★★★★

“I’m really nervous all the time...like I could be doing nothing and I’m just… nervous.”

FIRST OFF, thanks a lot to everyone who’s been talking about this for the past couple months. Especially with Booksmart last week, I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter about this movie. I totally missed it last year, but oh lordy am I glad I finally watched it.

The best part of the film, for me, was the MUSIC. A really stellar score and soundtrack. I don’t know if the synthy style really suited the film (it reminded me of Arcade Fire’s score from Her) but the emotion was absolutely there when it needed to be, and certainly also in the interstitial scenes. I love that this was scored with emotional leitmotifs, recurring as Kayla feels each emotion throughout the film. A phenomenal score. The pure, boundless emotion is the next thing I love about this film. I had such a warm smile on my face in those key scenes, and I felt real anxiety and heartbreak in those other scenes. It’s truly like Kayla’s emotions are the real characters in the film, in a much better, more real way than Inside Out could ever have imagined. Plus, THE greatest date scene I’ve ever seen in any movie, ever. Am I exaggerating? (But am I really?)

It’s directed with total sincerity and veritas, especially in the careful use of handheld camera. The acting is a huge standout, the lead girl was really amazingly understated, and it’s charming to see real kids avoiding looking into the camera. The overall effect is that you really feel like you’re in this world with these people watching their lives. The smooth editing is nicely done as to be totally unnoticeable, which is really important for a film like this. And lastly, I always appreciate representation for single parent/only child relationships, with a missing parent that isn’t dead but just deadbeat. Real world stuff.

I had issues with some of the script and how characters were written. The dad in particular felt unrealistic, too much like a stand-in perfect chill, understanding parent. However, I think it was intentionally done this way so that real-world father-daughter conflicts wouldn’t distract from Kayla’s internal conflict which demands the film’s full attention. Some other issues like that, just where the story felt more like a simplified parable than an authentic week-in-the-life experience, but who caresssss. That kinda nitpicking isn’t what this movie is about. Overall, a really great movie, and (dare I say it?) better than Booksmart, even if less fun.

”What was in there?”
“Nothing really, just sorta my hopes and dreams.”

Vineet liked these reviews