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Comedian Bo Burnham makes an impressive directorial debut with the heartfelt, painfully authentic story of Kayla (outstanding newcomer Elsie Fisher), a shy 13-year-old grappling with all the familiar struggles of adolescence: insufficient popularity, annoying parents, acne. But technology has also blessed (or cursed) millennial youngsters like Kayla with Instagram, Snapchat, and a host of other ways to chase the validation of their peers. Kayla makes inspirational YouTube videos encouraging her few followers to channel their confidence, but flounders in real life while her single dad (Josh Hamilton) can do little but watch sympathetically. Thanks to Burnham’s sensitive direction and Fisher’s achingly true performance, the tribulations and eventual triumphs of Eighth Grade’s heroine feel both eye-openingly contemporary and completely universal.
EIGHTH GRADE is in select theaters on July 13th, 2018.