Fourteen can be a terrible age. You just can’t manage to order your thoughts, your body starts doing weird things, your parents’ behaviour is even stranger (or at least that’s what you think), and you don’t know who your friends are or how to survive social interaction when you are actually at odds with yourself.
And fourteen-year-olds have it twice as hard nowadays because they also have to create an online identity that is popular but also corresponds at least somewhat to who they are. The edgy internet star Bo Burnham has made a coming-of-age film about the terrible difficulties associated with this search for the self, and it is receiving nothing but positive reviews.
This is surprising because Eighth Grade is not a wonder of the world. Burnham could have cut back on the sentimentality, stereotypes, and moralizing. On the hand, it is not surprising because he sometimes hits the nail of this toe-curling awkward embarrassment on the head, he seems sincere, and he doesn’t complain about social media like an old bore. Lead actress Elsie Fisher delivers an excellent performance as an introvert who finds the perfect outlet in vlogging, but who wrestles with life as only teenagers can.