Eminem is no great actor, but he confidently plays himself here in 2002’s 8 Mile
The crew assembled to tell the rapper’s story help make the film work. Curtis Hanson was on a hot streak in 2002 coming off of L.A. Confidential in 1997 and Wonder Boys in 2000. Future Scorsese collaborator Robert Prieto is the cinematographer and Philip Messina does the production design just two years removed from working on 2000’s Traffic.
Detroit and southeast Michigan are perfectly captured – overcast, abandoned buildings, automobile manufacturing.
Eminem was the highest selling musical artist of the entire 2000s decade and this is his sort of coming of age origin story. Early on he gets stage freight (the “choke” scene) and it works for the narrative, but it also works to sort of delay the highly anticipated revealing of the rapper’s talents.
Winner of the Oscar for the best song of the year, and “Lose Yourself” is a great song- but the best of the soundtrack (The Notorious B.I.G., Outkast, Wu Tang) is well curated as well.
Anthony Mackie, Kim Basinger and Michael Shannon are here in support. Basinger and Shannon are great actors, but some their scenes form an uneasy blend of comedy and melodrama (perhaps the scene of Sirk’s Imitation of Life is a nod to that melodrama? I’m not sure). Basinger, in particular, does not seem to find the right notes as we Eminem’s mom. She is miscast.
The climatic rap battle and modest walk off into the sunset ending is well executed.
Closer to the fringe of the archives than the top 10 of 2002- but still in the archives.
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