8 Mile

8 out of 10


A Driven Man Playing A Driven Man

Reactions might be mixed to the "8 Mile," but one thing is for certain, it is not possible to see the film without have a lot to say about it afterwards.

Eminem, the contraversial rap artist appears in this autobiography covering the early part of his life, rewritten with artistic licence and the names changed - for instance with his own reset to Eddie "Rabbit" Smith. And if this seems a lot like the current trend of singer Carey in "Glitter" and Britney Spears in "Crossroads," think again, for this is a driven man, not just in acting, but in everything that his warped genius constitutes.

Set in unimaginable poverty of the slums, the story of "8 Mile" is at times overly long, but packs a powerful punch with an almost Shakespearian blend of comedy, tragedy, loyalty and betrayal, and truly well-fashioned irony built upon twisted social dilemmas.

Rabbit is trapped in poverty as poor white trash, living in a trailer with his stupid, alcoholic mother, by a rich rap elite who are known as the "Free World" and led by a privately educated guy with wealthy parents. To escape, Rabbit must beat the "Free World" at the "rap" contest at the ironically named "Shelter" night club, where one of his DJ friends works. Here, rap artists stand on stage, to trash each other face-to-face for 45 seconds in turn. All of Rabbits friends know that he can win and are well-defined characters not the usual black stereotypes: the DJ who deeply believes in him, the pug-dog buffoon who can`t stop making a fool out of himself but who is uneducated white trailer trash like himself, the fat kid who`s always first by his side in the event of trouble and just wants to get laid and the intellectual who thinks deeply about the causes of the urban blight that surround them. Yet, as the one talent amongst them, Rabbit is the only one who doesn`t believe in himself and so fails with stage-fright each time.

A truly faulted character at the start of the film, he summarily dumps his girlfriend who says that she is pregnant and yet ironically, this turns out to have been a lie that she made up to keep him. He instead falls in love with Alex, a beautiful dishwasher who adores him and knows that he will reach the top. Despite this, their romance is doomed, as she leaves him to sleep with anyone who can get her out of the slums of New Jersey and on to New York. Through all this Rabbit has the blind loyalty of them all except just one - the only one who can actually change his life - a young man who works at a recording studio.

Throughout the picture, it is not just on the grand scale, but on a tiny scale that the well-crafted irony leaves the audience constantly wanting to laugh and cry at the same time. For instance, on Rabbit`s only visit to a recording studio where he dreams of reaching, he walks in on Alex having sex with his friend; with recording studios being soundproofed, there then follows the ludicrous scene where in the foreground, a group of rap artists are discussing with a DJ how their music brings harmony, whilst through a window behind their head, the audience can see, unheard, the furious punchup between Rabbit, Alex and his friend in the next, otherwise empty studio.

Much has indeed been said of the three sex scenes in the film, but I was surprised at their nature. For years, studios and writers have fibbed about their relevance to the plot, but here they are an essential element of the true pathos. Far from being visual, with less anatomy shown than on 10 seconds of "Baywatch" (Kim Basinger`s bare back being the most noteworthy) it is the circumstances of the sheer betrayal and the sordidness that really shocks us.

Supported as mentioned by Oscar-winner, Kim Basinger as his drunk mother and the laughably underrated Brittany Murphy as Alex, it is shot with the same style of camerawork as "Saving Private Ryan." In an overly close-range to the characters, "8 Mile" has a deeply uncomfortable "you-are-there-in-the-ghettos feeling about it.

A Film That Will Engrave On Your Soul

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett