I can relate. Not that I’m a 13-year-old girl, but I am an eighth-grade teacher by trade, so my daily interactions nine months out of the year are with 13-year-old children. Some think I’m crazy for putting myself in a room with 30 of them, but I love the unpredictable nature of adolescent behavior and the challenges that come with trying to negotiate the hormonal changes every day. That, and I have a sense of humor that seems to be hilarious to that audience, which is a nice boost to my own ego.

Elsie Fisher is a revelation. Just a shade older in real life than her eighth-grade character in the simple, yet appropriately titled comedy, she positively shines, with a brazen confidence that is rare, even in adult actors. It’s the kind of performance that, even in August, should earn her a place in the awards discussion for performances. Her authenticity seems almost masterful; difficult to tell if she’s acting or if it’s genuine. She is the focal point of the film, and although nothing extraordinary transpires, you will leave the theater rooting for her to have the high school experience that she so desperately yearns for.

Elsie plays Kayla, an only child to a single father who’s coming of age in everywhere, USA. She’s an eighth-grade girl with just a week left before the summer that will initiate her into the world of high school. She is self-conscious, melancholy, anxious and mostly searching for her place in the social circle of her classmates. And then there are the boys — so awkward. The final week of her school year comes and goes, and with it some memorable (and forgettable) moments as she tries to break out of her shell in spite of the ridiculous adults around her, and the typical pressures facing teens by their peers.

“Eighth Grade” writer/director Bo Burnham (bit parts and various stand-up comedy) must have some deep, dark skeletons in his closet. In spite of the upbeat, positive overall message, there is a pervasive sense of discomfort that permeates every scene, with a visceral sharpness that anyone with an embarrassing memory burned into their brain from when they were 13 can relate. I know I can. It makes for a very personal experience, which completely nails the objective, and for that I commend his approach to the film. But it’s also the kind of film that strikes like a flash in the pan. I wouldn’t expect this kind of poignant success again from Burnham.

It’s a shame that the film is rated R, but it wouldn’t be nearly as effective if it were toned down. Certainly there will be an audience of younger viewers who will see this with their parents (I would recommend), but it’s a bit ironic that it is suggested that you should be over 17 to see this film, as it is so relevant and meaningful.

What makes this film so watchable is that there isn’t anything intended to wow the audience. There isn’t anything cliché, or any unforeseen twist to make the film stand out. It’s simply a week in the life of an eighth-grade girl. With fantastic attention to detail with regard to the influence of smartphones and the generational differences with the adults in her life, it’s heartfelt and heartbreaking at the same time for anyone who grew up in a simpler time.

Low budget and in limited release currently, strong buzz will propel this film to be one of the more successful stories of 2018, and although it is an independent comedy (a tough genre to make the big bucks), it is one of the freshest and most rewarding cinematic experiences of the year thus far.

Go see “Eighth Grade” if you loved middle school (I actually did), hated middle school (most people I know did), or were indifferent (is there anybody out there?). It’s worth your time.