ninth symphony films - movie reviews

8 MILE (2002)

DIRECTOR  -  curtis hanson

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  drama

LENGTH  -  118 minutes

RELEASED  -  2 may 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  universal pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  8 mile

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $50,000,000
8 mile - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from 8 mile at

buy the dvd from 8 mile at

a young rapper in detroit struggles with his anger and social status through music.

the title is a reference to an actual road in michigan that separates detroit proper from 7 northern suburbs.


picture from 8 mile

picture from 8 mile

picture from 8 mile


three out of four possible stars

In the past two or three years, several platinum selling rap artists have made the successful transition from singing to screen. And 8 Mile is no exception. This picture has more depth to it than a five-minute rap video, but it doesn't take music and make rapping its biggest priority. The fact that this film focuses on the emotional problems of its main character ensures that even fans of other genres of music can appreciate the drama present in every scene.

Itís an understatement to say that this film is a gritty representation of life in the poor sections of Detroit, Michigan, but strangely enough, the movie isn't completely hopeless. Street life in Detroit can be most readily compared to the poor neighborhoods of working-class Liverpool, though perhaps itís because of the American slant on the story, but the hope for a better life seeps through every character in this film.

The dirt, grime, and graffiti that cover the section of Detroit beyond 8 Mile is a definite deterrent to tourists and its no wonder that this society hasn't been represented on screen before. Though it's nothing short of ironic that it's the story of a white kid that brings the predominantly black area into the forefront of pop culture. With Hollywood money and a platinum selling rap star on the marquee, 8 Mile has been heavily marketed into every neighborhood in America, regardless of the type of society in those neighborhoods.

But what makes this film click is not the race relations or the scenery of Detroit. Everything successful about this film stems from the performance of complicated personality, Eminem. Though his rhymes on stage show a very hyper, angry young man, there are moments in this film which would make one swear that "Marshall Mathers," as he was known when he was born, had never uttered a curse word in his entire life. Although the story is familiar - that of a poor kid making something of himself on his own terms - it is Eminem's performance which makes the film memorable.

The fact that Eminem was willing to portray a character with major self-esteem problems bodes well for his fan base, as it is expected to grow after this movie completes its run in theaters. This film encompasses the standard hero story from a different angle, and makes for not only an exciting film, but also an entertaining one. Though fans of Eminem's music may be disappointed to see that he isn't rapping on the screen for much more than ten minutes of the film's entire running time.

And indeed, given the autobiographical nature of this film, additional "musical numbers" probably would have made the movie even more vibrant. But it should be said that the drama in the film is intense enough to take up the slack. The heart-wrenching relationships Eminem's character, "Rabbit," has with his mother and his girlfriend illustrate how his problems extend further than just his financial situation.

Making headlines when she decided to take the role as Eminem's mother, Kim Basinger seems to have made the right decision, as she gives a frenetic performance and makes her character both powerful and pitiable at the same time. It might be easy to hate her because of the attitude she takes with her son and how she values a relationship with her boyfriend more than the one with her son, but the audience will also feel sorry for a character who has caught way too many bad breaks.

Brittany Murphy also accomplishes the same tightrope walk in her portrayal as Eminem's love interest, "Alex." There are moments when her character seems to be an unforgivable one, but in the end, she is just as redeemable as Basinger's character. As are most of the characters in the film. A particularly interesting aspect of this movie is that even after all the violence and arguing that occurs, there is no one in the film who will be particularly hated by the audience.

Excepting Basinger's abusive boyfriend, who doesn't spend that much time on screen, the fact that no one in this film can be pegged as specifically "good" or "bad" is a sign that a lot of effort was placed into the story of 8 Mile. While that success might be the result of experienced director, Curtis Hanson, (who also directed Basinger in L.A. Confidential) standing behind the camera, the cast for this movie makes quite an impression and the film is easy to enjoy, whether you're a fan of rap and hip hop or not.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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