8 Mile (2002)

I was about eight when I first heard of Eminem and fell in love with his music. I didn't understand the lyrics as I didn't speak English at the time, but I loved them nevertheless. So I was pretty excited when 8 Mile aired on TV a year later —no way my parents would bring me to see this. Also, I doubt my tiny town showed this— and I loved it. I rewatched it many times over the years, I rewatched it now and I still love it. 

Set in 1995 Detroit, the story follows Jimmy "B-Rabbit" Smith Jr. (Eminem), a young, unhappy white blue-collar worker who, after breaking up with his girlfriend (Taryn Manning), returns to his mother's (Kim Basinger) trailer park home and her young boyfriend (Michael Shannon). While struggling in every single aspect of his life, he tries to make a name for himself in the African-American dominated underworld hip-hop world. 

There's no secret that this is a loose adaptation of Eminem's rise from the ghetto of Detroit as there are many parallels between the rapper's roots and aspirations and that of Jimmy. That said, it's still a fictional story, an interesting, compelling and rather inspirational one about dreams and hard work and not settling for what you can have because it's easier but fight for what you want. It still has its flaws as it's pretty formulaic and predictable and the romantic subplot involving Brittany Murphy doesn't really go anywhere, but overall it's gripping and enjoyable. 

The characters, on the other hand, are a bit of a letdown. In fact, while Jimmy is decently written and comes across as a decent, regular guy who is trying to survive and make his dream come true, and his alcoholic, miserable and abusive mother, Stephanie, has more humanity and likeability than expected and their crumbling relationship is quite compelling, the rest of the characters are one-dimensional stereotypes with no development whatsoever —the member of the rival gang led by Anthony Mackie's Papa Doc are completely devoid of personality. Brittany Murphy's Alex does have a bit more dimension and depth but the way they developed the character is awful. Also, it makes no sense for Jimmy's ex-girlfriend, Janeane, to be in the film.

Universal Pictures
As for the performances, Kim Basinger gives a solid performance as the white trash mother, and Michael Shannon kind of steals the show as Stephenie's lazy boyfriend, but the standout, believe it or not, is Eminem. While it's not an Oscar-worthy performance as he's basically playing a fictionalized version of himself, he gives the character depth and complexity and makes him likeable.

L.A. Confidential director Curtis Hanson does a nice job as he infuses the film with a gritty, dark atmosphere and the cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto enhances it and gives the film more authenticity. The soundtrack, which includes Oscar-winning "Lose Yourself", is fantastic —but of course, you have to like the genre to enjoy it.


  1. I still really like this film, it's funny to me now that Michael Shannon is in it as he's become one of my favorite actors. Lose Yourself still holds up. Amazing song.

    1. I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one!