Sunday, 21 July 2019

Film Review: Booksmart

Olivia Wilde's Booksmart is a breath of fresh air that proves even a genre as well-trodden as the high school comedy can feel new again with the right vision and voice behind it. 

Molly and Amy are two seniors on the eve of graduation, and as two best friends who have prioritised good grades over good times, are about to depart high school on a high. Molly has booked her spot at Yale; Amy is journeying to Botswana to help those in need. However, Molly soon discovers that all the "irresponsible" kids who they look down have also gotten into great universities, rendering their refusal to get krunk somewhat meaningless.

To compensate, Molly and Amy vow to party like they've never partied before – cramming an entire high school's worth of shenanigans into a single night. As the night wears on, the girls bounce from one party to the next, all the while looking to wind up at dreamy hunk Nick's hyped end of semester bash.

From a lavish boat to a murder-mystery party, Booksmart plays fast and loose with its characters, rarely sitting still to catch its breath and reflect. But when it does – reflect, that is – the results are astounding. All  the best teen comedies take a moment to Wilde swings for resonance, poignancy and emotional depth, and delivers in spades.

Feldstein and Dever are a devilish lead duo with an insatiable chemistry that is hard to quantify. Roommates during production, the girls feel like lifelong friends from the very first frame, but distinct, important characters with wants, needs and aspirations all of their own.

Feldstein captures the confusion and disillusionment of someone who has had their whole worldview challenged in an instant, as well as the determination to make things right in the space of one night; meanwhile, Dever is wonderful as the forlorn queer teen struggling with confidence and independence.

Like all good teen comedies, Booksmart has its finger on the pulse in terms of lingo, references and (possibly most important of all) banging tunes. With the next boppin' needle drop just around the corner, the film doesn't have a dull moment – and the finale, soundtracked to a recent Run the Jewels gem – is instantly an iconic moment of the teen comedy genre.

The Verdict: 9/10

Without a doubt one of the best films of the year thus far, Booksmart is a must-see. Spearheaded by two brilliant young actors and boasting a brilliant ensemble of supporting characters, this teen comedy is one to be treasured.

Booksmart is in cinemas across Australia now.

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