Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of; Rap battles; The Music of 8
Mile; Eminem 'Superman' music video; DVD ROM features; Regions
CONTROVERSIAL rapper, Eminem, makes his bid for Big Screen stardom
in Curtis Hansons absorbing triumph against the odds drama
which surprises on many levels - not only because of the quality
of its performances but also because its not more, well,
Given that the singer has developed a reputation for being outspoken
throughout his career, it is a little perplexing to find the star
being portrayed, on-screen, as a shy, caring, thinker - and all
the more refreshing for it.
8 Mile could so easily have fallen into the trap set by so many
singers-turned-actors, as they bid to break into a new medium
by playing themselves, such as Britney Spears, for example. Yet
while Hansons film certainly contains plenty of parallels
to Eminems life, the quality of its direction and the strength
of its writing make it something much more besides.
Advance hype from America has even suggested that Eminems
debut could land him an Oscar nomination, although such predictions
seem a little premature.
8 Mile is a much better film than its premise initially suggests.
Set in the unforgiving town of Detroit (an area which promised
much, but delivered very little to its young inhabitants), the
film follows the story of Jimmy Rabbit Smith, an aspiring
songwriter, as he struggles to make a life for himself outside
of the stifling environment of the metal-stamping factory where
Forced to live with his luckless mother (Kim Basinger) in a trailer
park on the wrong side of the 8 Mile road, Jimmy channels his
anger and frustrations into his lyrics, but lacks the self-belief
required to finally make a name for himself when it comes to performing
So far, so routine. One could even describe it as a Rocky set
to rap (especially as the finale features a rap stand-off which
bears all the hallmarks of one of the boxers title bouts).
Yet by surrounding himself with such heavyweight talent, Eminem
actually floors the sceptics, turning in a winning performance
in a film that works very well.
This is much less a showboating exercise in how to remain controversial,
than it is about a young man trying to redefine himself, dispelling
notions that he is a homophobe and a racist along the way.
Hanson (who made LA Confidential) wanted to create a movie that
taps into the origins of hip-hop and maintains that the casting
of Eminem lends the film a great deal of authenticity. And he
is right, as 8 Mile is gritty, realistic and believable throughout.
Its story might not seem remarkable to movie-goers accustomed
to seeing the underdog come good, but the style in which it is
told is. And while Eminem may, ultimately, be playing a more politically
correct version of himself, there is no denying the guy can act
when he is called upon to do so.
Of the supporting cast, Basinger makes a suitably down-at-heel
mother, while Brittany Murphy delights as an ambitious temptress,
who finally provides Rabbit with the belief he needs to make a
stand. The likes of Mekhi Phifer, Evan Jones and De'Angelo Wilson,
as Jimmys friends, also register strongly.
But given that all eyes will be on Eminem, it is immensely satisfying
to be able to report that he does not disappoint, standing out
in a movie which works all the better for not giving in to cheap
shots and easy showboating.
It is an assured and lively film that expertly taps into the hopelessness
felt by one of Americas forgotten generations,
effortlessly conveying the anger that is so often expressed in