WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
Two academic superstars and best friends who, on the eve of their high school graduation, realise they should have worked less and played more. Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram 4 years of fun into 1 night.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Having studied film for several years the number of movies that I had to watch for men, about men and starring men was large. I would say that many (if not all, bar one about Legally Blonde's use of pink) of my analytical essays were about films that centred the male adolescent journey.
From serious dramas to comedies and everything in between. I didn't realise how much that narrative had affected me until I watched Booksmart; it was like exhaling even though I didn't know I was holding my breath.
This movie – directed by Olivia Wilde – is about women, for women and starring women. It's a celebration of sex, friendship and youth in a way that I've never seen before — with laugh out loud funny scenes, intermingled with moving character development and accurate depictions of being at the end of one chapter and the start of another.
Beanie Feldstein (who plays Molly) and Kaitlyn Dever (who plays Amy) manage to give you two performances to fall in love with while not stepping on each other's toes. Both characters are given the space they need to shine and for the audience to get to know them. And to get to know Amy and Molly is to love them.
My absolute highlight was Olivia's direction. The shots are so lush in parts and so intimate in others that I just wanted to live in her world for the rest of my life. She puts emphasis on what she wants you to see in a way that doesn't feel forced but feels more like organic storytelling. So masterful, so dream-like but at the same time very true-to-life. Especially for me.
I grew up a nerd, just like Amy and Molly. I didn't party enough and realised a little late in the high school experience that I could live a little.
Another thing I loved about this great comedy with heart was the way that Billie Lourd's character of Gigi was introduced; it has to be one of my favourite scenes of the film, and it reminded me of the scene in Mean Girls where Regina George was first introduced. It just let me know that this was someone that would become an iconic meme; a gem whose lines I would reference for quite some time.
I also really, really enjoyed the way that Amy's sexuality is talked about in the film. She out and struggling about being queer isn't the definitive trait of her character.
That's an important story to tell, yes, but I think a fresh take is so great. LGBTQIA characters can have happy endings too. You can laugh at her journey in the same way that you laugh at the heterosexual character's awkward moments, and I loved that.
For that reason and a whole lot more (including but not limited to a hilarious sex scene), I wish this movie was around when I had just finished high school, but I am so happy it exists for today's teens and the young at heart.