Words || Gabrielle Edwards
Booksmart, a coming-of-age comedy film, features two over-achieving best friends, Molly and Amy, on the night before their high-school graduation. After spending the last four years focused entirely on classes in order to prioritise getting into the best colleges, they’ve been accepted into their dream schools and scheduled out their five-year plans. Though, on their last day of school, they discover all of their fellow classmates have also managed to make their dream colleges while still partying, dating and living their best high-school lives. Molly, class principle, convinced they’ve been missing out, convinces Amy to come with her to the final high school party, run by the class VP Nick, who she DEFINITELY doesn’t have a crush on. The rest of the night entails hilarious shenanigans as they travel between their classmates’ various parties, desperately trying to make their way to Nick’s party, for which they have no address.
Everything about this movie was entertaining, creative and fresh, perfectly balancing the humorous and ridiculous moments with the more serious issue. It never tried to shy away from addressing a number of themes important to teenage girls today. From sexuality, to academic pressures and slut shaming, Booksmart was really able to capture problems surrounding modern high schools, devoid of the typical stereotypes littered throughout teen films in the past.
With the buddy comedy genre being typically dominated by male duos, watching one focusing on young women and their friendship was extremely exciting. Despite the fact that the film takes place over such a short amount of time, these characters are still established incredibly well, making you really empathise and easily connect to their relationship. Both Beanie Feldstein as Molly and Kaitlyn Dever as Amy absolutely shined in their roles, and I especially loved being able to see Beanie take the spotlight after enjoying her supporting role performance in Lady Bird. Billie Lourd’s performance, starring as their eccentric classmate Gigi was another highlight, making me laugh out loud in each scene she was in.
Beyond extremely positive female representation, we also lesbian representation through Amy, whose character has been out for two years. Throughout the movie, as much screen-time, if not more, is allotted to Amy’s romantic pursuits, as for Molly’s. We see her quietly pining after a girl in her class, awkwardly interacting with her to see if the feelings are mutual and having her first sexual experience. At a time when there’s still an unfortunate lack of queer female characters in teen movies, Amy’s journey in the film provides much needed representation for young queer girls.
Amongst other notable things, Booksmart also marks the directorial debut of Olivia Wilde. Despite starring in a multitude of movies and tv shows since the early 2000s, this has been her first time taking the director’s chair. In a recent interview, she discussed her initial hesitation to enter the directing field due to her lack of formal education in film. Though, she learned that her 15 years of experience as an actress and on set provided more than enough knowledge for her to learn the do’s and don’ts, evidenced through her creation of such an incredible film.
With a well-deserved 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, this really is a must-watch for comedy fans and all young girls in general. I only hope that it is able to set and new standard and raise the bar for teen comedy films in the future. Though one thing’s for sure, this movie definitely deserved all the hype it received and more