This is a perceptive, insightful and downright compelling drama about the ravages of early puberty and the war zones of junior high school. Lead Elsie Fisher manages to convey all the mixed emotions and ever-changing highs and lows of early adolescence without alienating the audience. In fact Fisher’s outbursts and moodiness make her more relatable for anyone who remembers an awkward journey through early puberty. She’s well-paired with Josh Hamilton as her caring dad, and the two share an onscreen chemistry that feels lived-in even by the first few shots. There are a number of scenes that place Fisher’s confused, anxious pre-teen character in social situations that often feel almost unbearably tense – a birthday pool party scene, in particular, is extraordinarily well done, drawing out suspense from a variety of social minefields that Fisher finds herself in. It’s a very well done little movie that manages to effectively tap into all the anxieties and confusion of adolescence, and finds hope and promise at the core of it all.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)