Armed with a beauty blender and a hairdryer, Kayla opens Eighth Grade preparing for a day at school. Following the direction of an everyday make-up tutorial on YouTube, she vigorously dabs her face with foundation like the girl on her laptop screen. When finished, Kayla gets back into bed, picks up her phone, chooses an adequate facewarping filter and snaps the perfect candid shot. “Just woke up like this… ugh!!!” she captions her Snapchat story.
Bo Burnham’s directorial debut takes a week in the life of a 13-year-old girl at the end of middle school, and dignifies the awkward anxiety that colours every minute of it. Kayla makes her own inspirational YouTube videos (the film opens with guidance on “Being Yourself”), giving nondescript advice that she reads off flashcards to a meager online audience. These videos never stray into self-pity – rather, they allow Kayla to express and understand her own raw and confused thoughts while providing a mirror for others living through it. Eighth Grade isn’t nostalgic or melodramatic, it’s an honest snapshot of teenagehood in 2018.
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