In her directorial debut, Olivia Wilde delivers what could honestly be one of the greatest coming-of-age films, and at the very least, the best one of the 21st Century. Booksmart follows the friendship between Molly Davidson (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy Antsler (Kaitlyn Dever), two bright but socially ostracised girls who realise on the eve of their high school graduation that they could have both partied and had academic success like their peers. What follows is one last desperate attempt to attend the party of the year.
Booksmart rides smoothly off of its script and its insatiable cast. The script is very tightly written, with every conversation and event having some sort of pay-off later on. This results in an excellently paced film that doesn’t meander too long on a single aspect or joke as other comedies tend to do. The introduction of multiple parties aids in this driven direction of plot, while also illustrating the varied social landscapes of secondary school with their unique themes and environments.
Heldstein and Dever are wonderfully charismatic and their on-screen rapport is instantly connective and credible.
Although the script and the direction are great in themselves, it’s hard to imagine the film feeling as cohesive with a different cast. Heldstein and Dever are wonderfully charismatic and their on-screen rapport is instantly connective and credible, making the laughs more convincing and the heartbreaks more painful.
It would take too long to highlight the best members of the supporting cast without going through them one by one. With the exceptions of Lisa Kudrow, and potentially Billie Lourd, the supporting cast is virtually unrecognisable, which enables them to disappear into their respective cliques, while also feeling distinct from each other. No one is wasted as the script hands them their own individual character arcs that are actually resolved, or at least provide emotional closure.
Booksmart is without a doubt the dark horse of the summer, overshadowed by the enormity of Avengers and Spider-Man, but fittingly reflecting the struggle of its characters. Fortunately, Booksmart hasn’t gone completely unnoticed and I suspect it will garner a mighty cult-following over the years to come.