Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Drama, Music
  • 2002
  • 110 mins

8 Mile

8 Mile

Synopsis

Eminem makes his feature debut in Curtis Hanson's film about an aspiring white rapper from the wrong side of the tracks in Detroit. Inspired by the star's own story

About

The road to Hollywood is littered with the corpses of pop stars who've tried their hand at acting and found the world wasn't ready for their close-ups (stand up Michael Jackson, Maria Carey, Madonna). Which is probably why 8 Mile has the oddball pairing of Eminem and Curtis Hanson. Just as Dr Dre lent Marshall Mathers III credibility when he emerged onto the hip hop scene a few years ago, Wonder Boys director Hanson gives the rapper cinematic legitimacy for his big screen debut - and, man, does he come off well.

As Rabbit, an aspiring MC from a broken home who's trying to work his way up through Detroit's black hip-hop clubs, he's essentially playing a fictionalised version of himself. However, rather than turn 8 Mile into an Eminem vanity project, Hanson and writer Scott Silver (Johns) hone the star's personality traits to create a strong, socially-aware character-driven drama.

Like Hanson's L.A. Confidential, 8 Mile has a strong sense of place. The title refers to the street that separates Detroit's affluent white neighbourhoods from its poor black ones and Hanson - by way of Amores Perros cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto's fluid-but-raw hand-held work - brilliantly captures the chaos of a once great industrial city gone to ruin. Rabbit, or Jimmy Smith Jr (Eminem), is the nominal white kid from the wrong side of the tracks who dreams of using his MC skills to get out of Detroit's run-down 313 area. By day he works in a steel plant, at night he works on his lyrics in the trailer he shares with his boozy, bingo-addicted white-trash mother Stephanie (Basinger) and adoring six-year-old sister Lily (Greenfield).

In the opening scenes we see Rabbit choke in front of a sea of black faces at a free-style battle hosted by his friend Future (Phifer). He scuttles off stage to catcalls of "Vanilla Ice" - something the real Slim Shady endured on his way up. The rest of the film is built around Rabbit finding his voice. On the surface it's a hip-hop Rocky, but while the subtext of Stallone's film was about putting a smart-talking black man - namely Muhammad Ali - in his place, 8 Mile is about defusing racial tension and focussing attention on the economic deprivation that intensifies division. As Future tells Rabbit: "When they hear you, it's not gonna matter what colour you are."

If there's a fault with this set-up it's that the women are under-served. Rabbit's love interest Alex (Brittany Murphy - looking like Courtney Love circa 1991), is a wannabe model who is trying to make it by screwing someone to help her get a portfolio together. As for Basinger, her moment of redemption comes when she wins the bingo. For a film that skilfully negotiates racial and class-issues with a minimum of clichés, it's a little depressing that it is so reductive with its female characters.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Eminem, Anthony Mackie, Eugene Byrd, De'Angelo Wilson, Taryn Manning, Evan Jones, Brittany Murphy, Mekhi Phifer, Omar Benson Miller, Nashawn Breedlove, Chloe Greenfield, Kim Basinger, Michael Shannon
  • Director: Curtis Hanson
  • Screen Writer: Scott Silver
  • Producer: Brian Grazer, Curtis Hanson, Jimmy Iovine
  • Photographer: Rodrigo Prieto
  • Composer: Eminem

In a nutshell

Another fine effort from a director currently on a critical roll. Hanson is great at teasing the audience with little samples of his star's lyrical dexterity as he builds towards the finale.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Serena

    Romantic drama set in Depression-era North Carolina starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

  • Film4

    Destry

    Audie Murphy stars in this remake of 1939's Destry Rides Again, which is directed by the man who made that previous version, George Marshall.

    On Film4: 28 Sep 4:25PM

  • Film4

    Weird & Wonderful Season on Film4

    Wild fantasy, dark fairytales and spectacular creations to tie-in with the release of Tim Burtons Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children.

  • Film4

    R.I.P.D. on Film4

    Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds star in Film4's first play of R.I.P.D., part of our Weird & Wonderful season.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF 2016: Top Ten

    Film4.com Editor Michael Leader runs through ten standouts from the Toronto International Film Festival...   The Oath I'd already seen three of the four Film4-backed films screening in Toronto (inc

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Baltasar Kormakur on The Oath

    As his Film4-backed Icelandic thriller The Oath premieres in Toronto, director/writer/actor Baltasar Kormakur speaks with Film4.com editor Michael Leader about making films in Hollywood, returning to

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share