Renowned actress Olivia Wilde has made her directorial debut feature film Booksmart – a story of friendship and an accurate depiction of high school teenagers’ lives.
Amy Antsler (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly Davidson (Beanie Feldstein) are two best friends and have been ever since they were young. They both attend the same school and are academic overachievers, making sure to never miss a day of school and to hand in their work on time. However, one day, they discover that the rebellious kids in their school have also succeeded in their endeavors, they attempt to attend a massive party to celebrate the day before their graduation.
Booksmart is a movie that will be talked about for years amongst fans of cinema and especially those that love a great and emotional coming of age tale, like myself. It is a film that works so well on so many levels and one of the reasons why is because of Dever and Feldstein. Their performances here are absolutely incredible and among the best of the year thus far. I have not seen chemistry this good between two actors on the big screen in a long while. Every single time they are on screen together, getting up to crazy antics, it genuinely feels as if these two have been best friends their whole lives.
Behind the scenes of the film, the two actually did live in the same dorm as one another so they did become quite good friends while filming this movie. They are extremely likeable here. Dever and Feldstein are two terrific actresses and I can only hope that they get even more amazing roles down the road.
Another element to this picture that I love is the fact that it depicts teenagers in an accurate way. It is quite frustrating when you watch a film centered around that age group that showcases them all as squeaky clean people who never use inappropriate words or get up to zany things. In Booksmart, Amy and Molly are depicted the way teenagers should be depicted. They talk like high school kids would talk and they act the same way as well which was such a breath of fresh air.
It is additionally the funniest film I have seen since 2018’s Game Night. I found myself laughing during virtually every scene and I have to applaud the screenwriters Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, and Katie Silberman for making such a delightful screenplay with terrific characters and humor that works so well.
The pacing here is great as well, which was something that I was somewhat worried about going in. Since the running time is relatively short at one hundred and five minutes, I was worried that the film would ultimately feel too short and the pacing would feel rushed but it gratefully was not. Every single sequence involved feels important, and I would not remove a single scene from the final cut. The overall length of the film felt just right and Wilde used it to her advantage.
Something that honestly surprised me about Booksmart was just how emotional it is. There was one moment in the second act that truly took me off guard and I found myself almost tearing up at this beautifully well-realized and heart breaking sequence that felt so real. This is probably the aspect of the film that was the strongest – the fact that it feels so authentic. Never once did I see characters on the screen. Everybody felt like a real human being that could actually exist and I was familiar with our two lead actors before this movie, and I still did not see them as Dever and Feldstein – I saw them as Amy and Molly.
It will also be an incredibly important movie for the LGBTQ community as there is plenty of representation involved here. We do not see enough representation for them in film unfortunately, so whenever one comes along that finally does so, it is amazing to see.
In addition, this was directed by a woman – Olivia Wilde. So many films these days are directed by men and not enough people go out of their way to support women filmmakers, but we should be doing that. They have a voice and they are creating some of the greatest films of this generation.
Booksmart is a delightfully real, emotional, and hilarious coming-of-age experience with astonishing performances.
Overall Grade: A+
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong sexual content and language throughout, drug use and drinking – all involving teens
Cast: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis
Directed by: Olivia Wilde
Distributed by: United Artists Releasing
Running Time: 105 minutes