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Friday, 8 November, 2002, 07:03 GMT
Eminem delivers in debut
Eminem has won praise and criticism as a singer

Eminem topped the US box office and billboard charts simultaneously with his debut film 8 Mile and the soundtrack of the same name. Now the film has been released in the UK.

Eminem's performance in 8 Mile is somewhat stilted - but nonetheless, believable.

This is a powerful film - gritty, sometimes frightening, occasionally funny and ultimately, inspiring.

Fans of Eminem will not be disappointed although mainstream audiences may be left wondering what all the fuss was about.

Curtis Hanson
Curtis Hanson directed LA Confidential
8 Mile, contrary to early speculation, is not based on Eminem's life.

In many respects, his character, Jimmy Smith Jr, could not be more different to the angry, rebellious and apparently homophobic young musician we know as Marshall Mathers.

Jimmy is sympathetic and caring although fond of throwing a punch.

The film is named after the 8 Mile Road in Detroit that acts as a dividing line between the deprived black inner-city and the more affluent white suburbs.

It also represents a divide cutting through the musical tastes of the city's young people.


Jimmy is a trailer park kid with aspirations to better himself and become a respected rap artist.

He lives up to his nickname, Rabbit, after freezing with fear during a performance at a local club where he is the only white rapper.

The film is full of colourful characters - not least Rabbit's penniless and rather slutty mother, played by Kim Basinger.

It is a role that the Oscar winner embraces - at times overshadowing her novice co-star.

Basinger teams up with her L.A. Confidential director, Curtis Hanson, for the movie.

Hanson has been meticulous in his attention to detail.

Those in the know - hop-hop insiders, fluent in the street-talk and wise to the outside world's stereotyped images of their culture - would have been quick to criticise any glib, Hollywood representation of their lives.

The director's use of many native Detroit rappers goes a long way to give the film a strong feeling of authenticity.

Few words

Eminem has done himself no harm by making this film. His acting may lack in training and experience, but he is by no means boring or laughable.

Basinger plays Eminem's mother
He is at his best in the scenes that allow him to rap - in fact he has relatively few words to deliver as straight dialogue.

On CD, Eminem is raw, offensive and provocative while on film he has a softer edge.

His character easily wins the sympathy vote and the story leaves you wanting to know him better. In Hollywood terms, the door is left wide open for a sequel.

Eminem embraces the role to the extent that audiences are bound to assume it is biographical.

Far from selling his soul to the devil, as the rapper says on his track, Say Goodbye Hollywood, Eminem has tantalised Tinsel Town and managed to escape with his credibility intact.

In the lens



See also:

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