- 27 May 19
Olivia Wilde makes outstanding directorial debut.
Best friends Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) have done everything right. They’ve studied hard, volunteered, and both been accepted into Ivy League schools. Molly, in particular, is feeling pretty smug. Finally, she can leave high school behind, knowing that the cool kids have hit their peak and will never make anything of themselves. Except, on the final day of school, she has a rude awakening. Those cool kids with no future? They’re off to Yale and Colombia, too. “This is not possible!” Molly splutters. “You guys don’t even care about school!” “No,” replies a popular girl, pityingly. “We just don’t only care about school.”
This set-up, which leads Molly and Amy to try and fit several years of high school experiences into one night, highlights the brilliance of Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut. The usual clichés of high school films and R-rated comedies don’t apply. Booksmart is a hilarious, exhilarating, rowdy comedy, which embraces the raucous energy of the One Wild Night framework, while avoiding all the usual pitfalls. All of the characters are gloriously fully-rounded and unpredictably fallible. Sexual conquests aren’t the end-goal. Friendships aren’t based around slagging, fighting and competition, but effusive, tender support.
Booksmart is a love letter to its uncool heroines, the girls who use their wicked intelligence and wit to conceal their insecurities, with Feldstein and Dever utterly sublime. As they engage in compliment competitions, accidentally get off their faces on hallucinogenics, and search out the final house party of the year, they represent so many teenage experiences. Like, for example, judging your peers before they can judge you; realising that IQ is not EQ; and being simultaneously excited and terrified by the future.
With an exuberant soundtrack, a celebratory attitude towards diverse gender and sexuality, and a relentlessly hilarious script, Booksmart is an irresistible ode to the joy of young friendship. Prepare to make Olivia Wilde your new ride-or-die director.