8 Mile probably isn’t what you might’ve expected. Given the cast and premise, you probably expect one of two things, either a silly excuse for self-aggrandizement or an overblown caricature of hip-hop culture. You don’t get either. What you get in 8 Mile is a brave film that is surprisingly culturally and intellectually rigorous and an aggressive film that is so emotionally intense that it seems to sometimes tear itself apart.
The plot is not a biography of Marshall Mathers, a.k.a. Eminem, but it is very much informed and guided by the experiences of his early career as a rapper in blue-collar and no-collar Detroit. Eminem gives a compelled, powerful performance that diverges just enough from his public self to inject the story with a strong sense of realism without sacrificing anything artistically. The supporting cast also makes fine use of their considerable talents, carving the Detroit of this film out of the world itself, not out of fiction. Even as they help communicate a hard, unforgiving time and place, they also give rise to deep and profound sympathies that don’t come around in every film.
The naturalistic presentation doesn’t stop there; most of the film is shot on location in Detroit, and the gritty, sometimes almost frenzied design and cinematography firmly establish that this is not just another Hollywood movie. This is a movie that goes places movies don’t generally go where, for good or for ill, many people do live every day. For one, 8 Mile might have the most believable, most powerful representation of an automobile factory of any film in the last twenty years, and it still manages to use the location for sophisticated, plot driving drama. Good stuff.
Of course, the film has its flaws. It’s very heavy and bleak, at times it skirts the boundary of cliche a little bit, and the villains, a rival rap group known as the “Free World,” are a little over the top, but, time and again, the solid acting and daunting camerawork keep coming back to seize the eye and command attention.
Oh, and, in case you were wondering, there is rapping, and plenty of it. The rapping is really top-quality, cutting edge stuff, for the most part, and it is integrated into the script so well that it is always clear that the characters choose to rap, not that the script forces them to do so. The rapping happens because it must happen to these characters at this time, not because Eminem is a rapper. In an industry where pop music movies are a dime a dozen, this is particularly impressive. This film says something about rap and the human experience that hasn’t been articulated this well many times before; it bridges the gap between rap and poetry in a big way, and makes that gap look a lot smaller.
All in all, the thing that really defines 8 Mile is how committed to this idea the cast and crew must have been in order to make this film. Every minute and every second, the cast’s intensity never gives up, and the camera never sleeps. The film is detailed, finely crafted, and has a pounding heart the size of a boxcar. If you don’t mind the obscenity and violence (and there is a bunch), I’d definitely say this is a movie worth seeing.
8 Mile cast
8 Mile cast, first billed only:
Eminem …. Jimmy ‘B-Rabbit’ Smith, Jr.
Kim Basinger …. Stephanie Smith
Mekhi Phifer …. David ‘Future’ Porter
Brittany Murphy …. Alex
Evan Jones …. Cheddar Bob
Omar Benson Miller …. Sol George
De’Angelo Wilson …. DJ Iz
Eugene Byrd …. Wink
Taryn Manning …. Janeane
Larry Hudson …. Bouncer
Proof …. Lil’ Tic
Mike Bell …. Shorty Mike
DJ Head …. Battle DJ
Michael Shannon …. Greg Buehl
Chloe Greenfield …. Lily Smith
8 Mile comments
8 Mile: This is so real!, 17 January 2005
Author: gtmgirl from United States
8 Mile is so real. The film showed exactly how the streets of Detroit look. Being that i was born and raised in Detroit, i know exactly ho things are. I was proud of the director (Curtis Hanson) for actually going 2 Detroit 2 shoot the film. He could went 2 LA and called it a day, but that would have taken all of the realistic values. He stuck 2 scene and showed the rest of the world what Detroit is like. People down Detroit all the time. It’s really not that bad. But Eminem did an excellent job playing Jimmy in the 8 Mile. You find a lot of men in Detroit that has the same back ground as his character. Eminem told a similar story of his own. He’s a white male from Detroit that always dreamed of becoming a rapper. 8 Mile was nothing but non-stop drama and that’s what I loved about it mainly. It had it’s humor, it had it’s fun, it has all of the qualities of a good film. I suggest that anyone who hasn’t seen 8 Mile 2 either rent it or purchase it, u won’t regret it.
8 Mile: good overall hip-hop movie…, 23 December 2004
Author: mre2usall from United States
8 Mile is a good movie as far as showing part of the World to many who don’t care about this culture, just exactly how life in it for some can be. A rate it a 7 because it could be better in almost every area, this is mainly for Eminem/Rap fans in general I’d have to say, so if you don’t really like Rap don’t bother. But, if you have an open mind and would like to just find out more about the HipHop culture then 8 Mile is a movie I suggest. Eminem does a very good job in his acting debut, showing many emotions many fans & parents of fans never knew about, especially the way he connects with his baby sister in the movie. I think 8 Mile could have a sequel that’d be better then the prequel showing him just break into the Rap game as an underground cat and making his way up. But, yeah hope you like 8 Mile and enjoyed my comments.
8 Mile: Excellent Rap Battles!!!, 7 September 2004
Author: jtindahouse from Nelson, New Zealand
Very good movie, 8 Mile. Everyone’s acting was superb and the story was excellent. The rap battles were really well done and no one could have told that they were lip sinked (which they were). The last rap battle he did was his best. The lines were just outstanding. Eminem’s performance was out of this world. Not one scene in the movie shouldn’t have been there. If they were going to make a sequel to 8 Mile I think that would be a very good idea (if they could find a story line to base it around). It’s a movie that you can tell has had a lot of time and effort put into it. Overall 8 Mile would have to be one of the best movies ever made about a person’s life. I really hope they find a story line for the sequel.
8 Mile: not just for rap fans, 8 August 2004
Author: anna9 from ny
This is a good movie! My kids saw it in the theaters years ago and recently talked me into sitting down with them and watching the 8 Mile DVD saying “It’s not just about rap, Mom!” And they’re right. 8 Mile has a great message about staying true to your dreams. It has a lot of heart and quite a bit of humor. The story really sucked me in, the relationships generally rang true and Eminem CAN act, go figure! Kim Basinger was also wonderful as Rabbit’s mother and Mekhi Phiffer is also gives a standout performance. The only jarring note for me was Brittany Murphy but that’s a minor quibble. I loved the message, and the ending. If you haven’t seen it yet, do. 8 Mile is definitely worth your time.
8 Mile: I Gained A New Respect For Eminem After Seeing This Movie, 20 May 2004
Author: Robert Vann Smith from Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Okay, so, I was never much of a fan of Eminem from the beginning. Probably the only song of his I even closely cared about was “Thank You, Stan”, a song he teamed up with Dido to do. I’ll be honest, I only went to see 8 Mile because I was bored and wanted something to do.
Afterwards, I have to admit, I gained a new respect for Eminem and his music, as well as for rap music in general. Maybe rap isn’t completely a “black thing”, after all.
8 Mile doesn’t stand out as one of the best movies around, but it isn’t that bad as a chronical or documentary of a young aspiring rapper’s life.
It’s just a shame that so much of today’s rap is gangster related. Give me the Fat Boys or Run DMC, any day.