“Eighth Grade” is a true and terrifying film. Nominated for one Golden Globe, but ignored by the Oscars, it has won numerous acclaim. We saw it on rental. As if staring through the window of their suburban house, we witness a story about a 14 year old girl who lives alone except for a smartphone in her hand. Her dad inhabits the house and tries to share her life; even his caring attempts illustrate today’s culture’s mixed up understanding of parenting. We never see her mother.
Adolescence can be an awkward time. However, this film trumpets the warning that technology has driven our country’s children into the poverty of loneliness. The star, Elsie Fisher, should be up for “Best Actress.” Her honest portrayal of life lived on a phone is heartbreaking. She’s befriended in a superficial way by one other living person, a high school girl in a rare but inappropriate school program. (Why should an eighth grader be hanging around at the mall with high school kids?)
When I was 14, I lived with a family who loved me. It was a weird time: I still loved my dolls, “This is the last Christmas you’re getting a doll,” my mother told me. Yet it was also the year I started wearing a bra. (Yes, that late in life (!) compared to now when mothers who shop at “Justice” now buy their daughters those ‘bra things’ at age 8!) My family also chose to attend church where I had youth group sponsors like Jerry and Carol Augustin who planned fun social activities for us middle school kids like tobogganing, “Dutch Date Nights”, sleepovers, trips to Hershey Park, etc etc. I had friends. I had friends at school/neighborhood. Not many; I was not popular. But I was not alone.
This film is heartbreaking and unfortunately true. Must see for anyone who cares about their grandchildren and the next generation.