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8 Mile

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: 8 Mile

Starring: Eminem, Kim Basinger
Director: Curtis Hanson
Rated: R
RunTime: 118 Minutes
Release Date: November 2002
Genres: Drama, Music

*Also starring: Eugene Byrd, Taryn Manning, Brittany Murphy, Mekhi Phifer

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

You don't have to be into rap music to appreciate the raw, visceral authenticity of Eminem's fictionalized biography. Named after a road that serves as a physical and psychological boundary between black inner-city Detroit and its white suburbs, "8 Mile" is set in 1995, when Jimmy Smith Jr. (Eminem), a trailer park kid known as Rabbit, first tries to perform at a local club. His is the only white face among the black throng, and he chokes, freezing in fear. The plot then delves into how he transcends that terror by confronting his demons: a tortured relationship with his alcoholic mother (Kim Basinger) and her live-in lover (Michael Shannon), protective love for his kid sister (Chloe Greenfield), betrayal by friends, frustration with his boss at the metal-stamping factory where he works, and a tenuous relationship with his ambitious-to-become-a-famous-model-in-New-York girl-friend (Brittany Murphy). The concept behind Scott Silver's script, Curtis Hanson's direction and Rodrigo Prieto's camera-work is to show how the hot-tempered rapper finds his identity, not by discarding his trash-talking environment but by embracing it - and they strike a chord of emotional truth. Eminem/Marshall Mather elicits sympathy as the observant, quick-witted but emotionally conflicted Rabbit with Mekhi Phifer as Future, his cool "big brother," who pushes him into impromptu, fast-paced, abusive, free-style verbal sparring "battles." Meanwhile, Wink (Eugene Boyd) lures Rabbit into thinking about record "deals." And they're headed for a hip-hop showdown with the charismatic Papa Doc (Anthony Mackie). On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "8 Mile" is an angry, explosive 8, capturing the frustration and determination it takes to "Lose Yourself." It's the struggle of a rhymin', rappin' "Rocky."

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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