Angelique Inchierca / Photo Editor

Jacqueline Pantano

Equinox Staff

Eighth Grade (2018), written and directed by Bo Burnham, is an astonishing authentic picture of existence as a thirteen year old girl. With a fresh certified 98% approval rating, based on 193 reviews on the review aggregator “Rotten Tomatoes”, and with a score of 90 out of 100, based on 45 critics on review aggregator Metacritic, Eighth Grade is a critically acclaimed film. The performances by Elsie Fisher, who played the main character Kayla Day, and by Josh Hamilton, who played her father Mark Day, were particularly praised. Hamilton’s performance was defined “note-perfect” by Manohla Dargis of The New York Times. Fisher’s performance was judged as, “a raw, radiantly generous performance,” by Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post.

Eighth grade presents to its audience, in extreme detail and with impressive nonchalance, every little aspect, emotion, feeling, and state of mind that being thirteen entails. Viewing this film is an emotional, cringy, and overwhelming experience. Intense first crushes, awkward pool parties, and annoying but loving parents on the screen make the viewers cry, cover their eyes from embarrassment, smile and laugh. Being thirteen is terrifying. As Bo Burnham, director of Eighth Grade,  said in an interview: “Your body is exploding. Your mind is exploding.”

Eighth grade is so authentic that, in some moments, it is almost painful to watch. You relive every awkward moment you had to go through in your pre-teen years. All the insecurities, the concerns, and the embarrassment you felt will be displayed on screen for 94 minutes. At the same time, oddly, the viewing of Eighth Grade is a pleasant ride. Among those awkward moments and insecurities, there are hopeful and heartwarming moments. Being thirteen usually implies dreaming of a brighter, more exhilitering future ahead. The lack of experience often renders everything exciting and new. The loving parents that you neglected and mistreated will still care; they will always care. The friends you will make, the ones you feel are just as awkward as you, just as insecure, trembling around their eighth grader life, will really care about you. They will see you for who you are, just as you see them.

Despite all this, at the end of the film, realizing you are not an eighth grader anymore will be a tremendously great relief. You will jokingly puzzle on how you even made it through that time, when it was your time. The illusion that care-free, joyful times are only behind you will be broken. Ironically, you will be just like an eighth grader; you will believe in the future and what it might have in store for you.

Eighth grade brings you, abruptly and successfully, back to those days of youth. It tests your memory making you laugh and cry about what once was. Eighth Grade truthfully captures what it feels like to be thirteen, and it effectively projects it on screen, for all to see. It is a powerful, dramatic, and impressively genuine film.

Jacqueline Pantano can be contacted at

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