Booksmart (Film Review)


I’m a sucker for a good coming-of-age film. The last few years have been really kind to me in that regard, with films like The Edge of Seventeen, Lady Bird, and Eighth Grade. All of those films ended up at the top of my year-end lists when they came out. Booksmart will be no exception. This is my favourite film of the year so far and it’s not close. It’s just an absolutely delightful viewing experience from start to finish. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever star as Molly and Amy, two best friends who realize on the eve of their high school graduation that maybe they didn’t have to sacrifice a good time in the name of academic success, and set out to cram four years worth of partying into one night. Both of them give incredible performances. The on-screen chemistry between these two is undeniable. Their friendship feels so lived in, so genuine, so real. It’s what makes “the argument” scene so devastating. Olivia Wilde’s direction here is inspired. Booksmart is her feature-length directorial debut, but you honestly wouldn’t know it. The pool scene is incredibly well shot, one of my favourite scenes of the year, and it’s immediately followed by a frantic tracking shot of Amy searching for her friend in a crowded house party that is reminiscent of a scene from Boogie Nights. The screenwriting can’t be ignored either. Penned by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman, this screenplay is one that takes your typical “one crazy night” and teen comedy tropes and executes them flawlessly. It also treats all of its characters with compassion. Almost every single one of them feels fully fleshed out. No one is the butt of the joke in this film. Certain characters are mean to each other, for sure, but they’re given moments of redemption that humanize them. When our protagonists finally reach the big party, no one is wondering out loud why the losers showed up. Everyone is actually just really excited that they came, and tell them how much they wish they had come out and had fun more often. Booksmart is ultimately a film about friendship at a time of uncertainty. We all know that high school friendships seldom last forever, but this film leaves us with the hope that one just might for Molly and Amy. Backed by a stellar supporting cast too long to even list here, Booksmart is the first must see film of the summer, and if you haven’t already seen it, I seriously can’t recommend it enough.


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