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8 Mile

Find Your Voice 

Year: 2002 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from 8 Mile

‘‘I’m a f**king piece of white trash, I say it proudly.’’ Eminem’s bold, rage-fuelled self-assertation here, arrogant, self-critical and full of raw energy captures this movie’s crucial tension: Eminem is a white rapper in a black neighbourhood. He doesn’t belong. Director Curtis Hanson (LA Confidential) shows how the combined effects of poverty, pressure, judgment and an imploding personal life feeds his desire to rap. Despite Hanson’s attempt to capture the gritty realities of Eminem’s early life in Detroit, the success of this movie lies in its ability to capture the universal feeling of being an outsider.

After a break-up Eminem is forced to move back to living in a trailer with his jobless, alcoholic mother (Bassinger). His day is divided between soul-crushing factory work and wasting time with his aimless but well-meaning friends. In a climate of films exploring black-racism, interestingly, Hanson captures the prejudice Eminem suffers as a white boy in the predominantly black Detroit. Wracked with shame, frustration and feelings of alienation, Eminem’s desire to escape intensifies. Like a superhero, Eminem’s rap alter-ego is the source of his power, his chance of escape. However, his Kryptonite is his fear and self-doubt. In order to triumph, Eminem must overcome his own worst enemy: himself.

Eminem’s rapping may exceed his acting skills, but he certainly knows how to play himself. Quiet but determined, tough yet vulnerable, Eminem’s character is a complex mixture of towering egotism and bitter self-doubt.

While Eminem’s story drives his music, music also drives this story. 8 Mile’s charm lies in its small musical moments: improv rap permeates this, converting pain and frustration into entertainment and comedy. The climatic Rap Battle is an awe-inspiring movie moment, an explosive release of anger, suspense and pure talent.

Jessica Corne

Following in the recent footsteps of Mariah Carey, Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez, Marshall Mathers (A.K.A Slim Shady, A.K.A Eminem) takes a sabbatical from the recording studio and enters the world of the silver screen. Loosely auto-biographical, 8 Mile follows the story of Jimmy “Rabbit” Smith Jnr, a depressed rapper, whose girlfriend has gotten pregnant and broken up with him, and who faces the prospect of moving in with his mother (Basinger), her daughter and her boyfriend who hates him.

The title “8 Miles” refers to the road which separates inner city Detroit from its white suburbs, and is the area where Smith lives and has found acceptance and friendship from a posse of homies, and especially from Future (Phifer). Future MCs the rap contests at The Shelter, the place where we first see Smith about to do the only thing he does well and enjoy doing, performing on stage. However, not all goes to plan, despite a wonderfully motivating rehearsal in the men’s room, and he suffers a panic attack, and ends up fleeing the stage.

Humiliated, Rabbit returns to his menial job and living with his trailer trash mother. The following week’s rap battle could offer a chance of redemption - but will he take it?

Eminem is convincing as Rabbit, the plucky underdog who triumphs in the face of adversity and whilst not the greatest piece of acting, he at least manages not to embarrass himself or the audience with a display to rival the cringe-inducing efforts of others from the music industry making the leap into movies. In fact, Eminem plays to his strengths, with some electrifying scenes of one-on-one rapping - trading rhyming insults and literary invention.

You would be disappointed if came to see this film expecting a triumphant rags-to-riches story, for there is no Dr. Dre waving recording contracts and plucking Jimmy Smith from his dead-end job. But what this is is a wonderfully emotive film about facing your fears and making the most of what talents you have. Definitely worth a viewing!

Jack Slim

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Screenings of this film:

2002/2003 Summer Term (35mm)
2002/2003 Summer Term (35mm)
2018/2019 Summer Term (35mm)