With his raw, tender and heartfelt “Eighth Grade,” comedian-turned-filmmaker Bo Burnham has made one of the very best films of the year. Burnham‘s miracle of a movie is made all the more impressive by the fact this is the feature-length debut for the 27 year-old YouTube comedian known for small parts in movies from Judd Apatow and most recently, “The Big Sick.”
The film follows Kayla (Elsie Fisher), whose constant self-reflectiveness is familiar enough to make you cringe at every stutter. Kayla’s dad (Josh Hamilton) is as good a single dad as you can be, given the fact that he has to contend with his teenage girl entering the most awkward and uncomfortable phase of her life.
The anxiety Kayla has within her, always in a state of questioning, makes the case for a kind of early-adolescent humanism we haven’t seen depicted on-screen so acutely. In “Eighth Grade” Burnham offers a snapshot of history in the making depicting a millennial generation as a zombie-like student body in are slaves to technology, social media, and their phones.
I spoke to the director about the film, his own personal identifying with Kayla and his transition from YouTube video-maker to, now, one of the most celebrated debut filmmakers of the year.