I think it’s dif­fi­cult to por­tray young life well in film, but Eighth Grade takes on the chal­lenge. It’s an au­then­tic por­trayal of teenage life in so many ways: the anx­i­ety, awk­ward­ness, and un­cer­tainty you feel about your­self are all there, but so are the mo­ments where you learn things about your­self and de­cide to ac­cept and love them.

A few day­dream scenes are backed by great songs, then cut fast and abruptly to bring both the char­ac­ter and au­di­ence back to re­al­ity. Some scenes are per­fectly un­com­fort­able and just the right bit of long, and it’s those type of bold choices in edit­ing that help tell this beau­ti­ful story so well.

Eighth Grade re­minds you how mean kids can be, but also how adults don’t re­ally get less mean per se, we just get bet­ter about be­ing po­lite about it. And of course, none of this would be pos­si­ble with­out Elsie Fishers per­for­mance which brings Kayla to life in a gen­uine way.

I mean, even the fact that Kayla has acne in the movie speaks to how im­por­tant it was for Bo Burnham to tell this story au­then­ti­cally—not in a per­fect, air­brushed, every­one gets along Hollywood way. Eighth graders (and all of us, re­ally) can watch this and see them­selves and hope­fully learn that it’s ok to be awk­ward, it’s ok if you haven’t found your peo­ple” yet, and if things did­n’t turn out the way you wanted, to­mor­row is a whole new day to try again.

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