The whole movie’s success is mainly due to Eminem’s great charisma and ability to act, but some other actors like Mekhi Pfifer have shown great talent too.
Eminem plays the character of Jimmy Smith Jr (Bunny Rabbit) who works at the Detroit stamping plant.He lives in a trailor park with his mom (Kim Basinger) , her abusive boyfriend Greg and his half sister Lily after being dumped by his
The movie shows the harsh conditions of living of Jimmy and the fun he has with his friends and co workers.Moreover, it shows the hard struggle of a white MC to be recognized at the rap battles that take place once a week. He first gets boed on stage because he is so much impressed. The words just don’t come out of his mouth.
The first scene of 8 Mile, in the restroom clearly shows B.Rabbit’s weakness, his stagefright.
When B. Rabbit shows up on stage, his facial expression is an expression of fear, he is so much impressed in front of the crowd, despite the support of his friends.Papa Doc has won one battle, but he has not won the war at all…B.Rabbit will shut him down at the end of the movie by exposing some private details of his life (like the fact that he went to the private school Cranbrook) in the last rap battle.This is a well known principle of the rap battles. You have to diss your enemy and to reach your goal you are allowed to use any detail of his privacy to make him look ridiculous in front of the whole crowd.Winning a rap battle is like winning a battle in real life, it has a real meaning for an M.C. Eminem pointed it out in an interview about 8 Mile.
8 Mile exposes the life of Stephanie(Bunny Rabbit’s mom played by Kim Basinger) who is always drunk and addicted to bingo (like Debbie Mathers).Her life is a succession of dramas, she risks to get evicted from her trailer because she’s late in paying her rent.Her son Jimmy fights Greg and manages to get rid of him as he begins to become violent towards Stephanie.
Her boyfriend is constantly drunk and violent.Lily, Jimmy’s half sister lives in a constant atmosphere of insecurity and violence.Jimmy is the only person who really takes care of her.
The relationship Jimmy has with his mom is complex. His mom’s behavior bothers him a lot, he sometimes feels ashamed in front of his friends, but inside of him he still got a lot of tenderness for her.
Two friends are trying to push Jimmy in two different directions:
-David Porter ‘The Future’ played by Mekhi Pfifer, who wants him to face lyrical battles and to get recognition at the local scene.
-‘Wink’ rather believes in connections to important people.
8 Mile is moving, it refers to real life in Detroit, even if the movies is semi autobiographical.
In one scene (which is also my favorite), we can see Rabbit in his trailer home sitting on his chair, looking for some inspiration. You can see how he uses each space of the paper sheet, writing on each space, each corner, on the left, on the right of his page, until the page gets filled.
While writing and smiling in direction of his half sister, the melody of ‘Lose Yourself’ is popping into his head. The words ‘Lose Yourself’ and ‘If you only had one shot’ resound in his head like an echo while Rabbit is writing his rhymes on each corner of his paper sheet. You can see a genius at work.
The relationship between Bunny Rabbit and Future symbolizes the friendship between Eminem and his best friend Proof in real life.
Alex (played by Brittany Murphy) plays Jimmy’s love interest. Alex and Rabbit’s characters have something in common: they both want to reach their goals, but in different directions with a main difference: Rabbit never loses his integrity, but Alex is ready to cheat on him in order to reach her goal.
The context of 8 Mile might be different from Eminem’s life story, but musically we find Eminem’s style in the rap battles as well as in the songs he composes in the movie.
An excellent and authentic movie, the lyrical battles are worth seeing.