SXSW 2018 Review: EIGHTH GRADE

By Jan Hamilton

Usually, comedies about school focus on a group of kids, detailing their triumphs and tragedies.  This very special film follows just one misfit girl, who tries to join a popular group and gain some friends.  Kayla (Elsie Fisher) is very self-confident when she films her series of self-help videos from home.  She advises on how to be a friend and how to get along with others.  She seems to know all the right moves.  The problem is that no one watches them and she is unable to bring that confidence to actual interactions with her peers. 

Her single dad Mark (Josh Hamilton) is very loving and caring, but her problems are not always things a parent can solve.  Through a fluke, a popular girl is forced to invite her to a birthday pool party.  Kayla goes to “put herself out there,” as her dad suggests.  It goes as badly as one would expect, but she does get to meet the cousin (Jake Ryan) of the birthday girl.  More importantly to her, the popular guy she swoons over (Luke Prael) says a couple of words to her.  Armed with this new hope she begins acting as if she actually has confidence.  How her school year ends is the touching finale of the film.  Elsie Fisher is a revelation in this picture.  It is a good film with a good heart.  Director Bo Burnham has delivered audiences a treasure.

 

Film Credits:

Director:  Bo Burnham

Executive Producer:  Jamin O’Brien

Producer:  Eli Bush, Lila Yacoub, Christopher Storer

Screenwriter: Bo Burnham

Cinematographer: Andrew Wehde

Editor: Jennifer Lilly

Production Designer: Sam Lisenco

Sound Designer: Matt McLarty, Tammy Douglas

Music: Anna Meredith

Principal Cast: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton

 

 

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