“…I am trying hard to be like you. I know I don’t succeed, but look how hard I try. Three hours to choose a hat; every morning an hour and a half trying to make myself look like everybody else. Every word I say has chains round its ankles; every thought I think is weighted with heavy weights.”

— Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight


“Sometimes I think that when I’m older, I’ll have a daughter of my own or something. And I’ll feel like if she was like me, then being her mom would make me sad all the time. I’d love her because she’s my daughter, but I think if she turned out like me that being her mom would make me really sad.”

— Kayla Day, Eighth Grade

 

Jean Rhys’ Good Morning, Midnight and Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade can be excruciating. This novel and movie combo reminds us that pretending to be “normal” in any situation only makes whatever present fear or unusual nature that much more noticeable.

This pairing also explores:

  • The cuter side of egotism
  • Language or lack thereof as the vehicle for connection
  • Imagined destinations that will redeem the current state
  • Omnipresent mirrors/windows/cameras/screens that display reflection
  • Story fabric consisting mostly of what could happen rather than what actually happens
  • The exhausting nature of trying to make yourself presentable to the world
  • Passivity in the face of cruelty and pressure
  • Characters that surprise everyone, even (maybe especially) themselves
  • Intense mental claustrophobia
  • Physical darkness pervading every scene that only slightly translates into the metaphorical
  • Phone or bottle is escape of choice
  • An intermingling of past, present, and future selves as character foils


This pairing will give you a tepid anguish, a sense of mild dread that anything will happen and that nothing will happen and that both of these can somehow occur at the same time, compounding on each other. But it will also validate those times you felt insecure, anxious, or paralyzed by what seemed to be the life surrounding you.