Is Eighth Grade an affectionate critique of adolescence? A study on our relationship with technology? A self-love letter aimed at insecure adults? All of the above. Plus a near-perfect meditation on the most awkward age. At its worst, it’s winsome, even joyful; at its best, it takes risks. The kind you take before you’re old enough to know better. The kind you get talked out of in film school. The result? Moments of middle school genius. A montage of social-media escapism set to Enya singing “Sail Away.” A shot of Kayla’s face half-eclipsed by a laptop screen. Kayla’s phone call, a long take without cuts, pacing back and forth in her bedroom. A time capsule within a time capsule. And more.
Bo Burnham doesn’t hold back. Call it courage, naïveté, or both: like Kayla, he’s still growing, searching for himself as a director. And, like all of us, he’s also searching for himself. Not as a narcissist; it’s more a form of self-help. A salve for anxiety, for confusion and fear. Just as his earliest YouTube videos evoke both embarrassment and nostalgia, Eighth Grade reminds us that looking back can also help us look forward. The future looks bright for Burnham. Here is the post screening Q&A from the world premiere at the library center.