Anyone who’s aware of who Bo Burnham is either from YouTube or his stand-up specials was at first shocked to find out he was making a movie about a girl in Eighth Grade but after having seen it, nothing makes more sense.
Eighth Grade introduces the world to Elsie Fisher who inhabits and shines as Kayla Day. Kayla is about to leave middle school and while life hasn’t treated her fairly, she’s still optimistic about her future.
Everyone vaguely remembers middle school, and it sucks. Some unfortunately have it worse than others, but no one thinks of it fondly. I was fortunate enough to leave it with friends, and I also had my cousins who protected me and welcomed me to their school when I showed up in Grade 5, while they had already been there since they started. Kayla isn’t as lucky as I was.
She’s leaving her school alone, as she doesn’t have friends. She doesn’t have friends because she’s shy and quiet, but if you got to know her, you’d know that she’s not really quiet. But it’s hard to know her when there’s no way to meet the real her, and that’s hard to meet when she isn’t even aware of who that is. It’s a vicious cycle, and one who has anxiety knows how easy it is to get lost in them.
Kayla is extremely wise for her age, and this shines in her YouTube vlogs as she gives advice that runs contradictory to her own life and events. The fact that she does this, shows her positivity and optimism for the future even after people make fun of her at a birthday party that she was awkwardly invited to.
Kayla is the type of person you would do anything to protect, keep pure and precious. For the first time, I could relate to what that it might be to want to be a parent, and to protect someone at every cost.
At first, it’s odd to think of a grown man who makes jokes about his anxiety to write and direct a film about what it’s like to be a 14 year-old girl, and while I can never be sure about how accurate the film may be in terms of what it’s like to be a 14 year-old girl in 2017, but I know it rings really true to what it was like to be a 14 year-old boy in 2007. And what it feels like to be a human. Bo just shows us what it means to be a human being, flawed and hurt. And scared, so scared, just like everyone else. We all want love and support. And to be accepted.
Scenes from this film will stick with me throughout the year, and this film will as well. Trying to put into words about the film after seeing it brought me to tears. Travel back in time and remember what it was like to not know what the future has in store for you, and while that sounds all too familiar for anyone in their twenties, this time please remember what it’s like to be optimistic about it all. Everything will be gucci in the end.