Booksmart Review – A Wilde Ride!

Projected Film: Booksmart Review – A Wilde Ride!

Runtime: 105mins | Director: Olivia Wilde | Rating: 5 Stars

The coming of age genre is one almost everyone is familiar with. Typically, kids in high school don’t know what to do once they leave college, they fear their friendships will never be the same, and they regret not trying to kiss the guy or girl of their dreams. It’s all very familiar.

Booksmart doesn’t redefine the genre in any way, instead, it embraces the classic tropes and builds upon them elevating it to a height only a few other coming of age films have reached. This is a testament to Wilde’s directing ability and vision.

So, what’s Booksmart actually about?

Molly and Amy (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) are two self-confessed nerds who are about to graduate from high-school. Throughout their time there all they have done is focus on their grades to secure the best possible futures for themselves. After they discover that the other kids who partied, misbehaved and generally didn’t try as hard also got into ivy-league schools, they commit to having the biggest, most impressive evening of debauchery to end their time at school in style.

Projected Film: Booksmart Review – A Wilde Ride!

One trope Booksmart defies is crisis of identity. Often characters aren’t sure where they fit in or which clique they belong to. Molly and Amy, however, know exactly who they are – feminist nerds - and are completely unapologetic about it. Rather than feel victimised, however, it’s clear from the outset that they don’t care. When an insult is thrown their way, they look down their noses, throw back a witty retort and go about their day unfazed.

This, for me, is where Booksmart elevates itself. None of the characters are perfect, they each are facing their own problems and reputations, and Wilde treats them as such. Every character in the film is playfully made fun of whether it's Molly and Amy for being too uptight, Jared (Skyler Gisondo) – the school rich-kid – for naively trying to buy friends, or George and Alan (Noah Galvin and Austin Crute), two gay drama students being self-obsessed. The comedic line is carefully trodden and you feel as if you’re laughing with them rather than maliciously at them.

Projected Film: Booksmart Review – A Wilde Ride!

The charismatic cast is also emphasised by an incredibly upbeat soundtrack carefully curated by Wilde and Bryan Ling. Whether it’s Molly and Amy freestyle dancing by their car before school to Sam Spiegel’s ‘To Whom It May Concern’, the glamourous rich-kid, Gigi, making an entrance reclined across the hood of a sports car to ‘Money’ by ‘Leikeli47’, or Amy and Hope’s pivotal romance scene to the backdrop of ‘Cold War’ by Cautious Clay, it is a soundtrack to be remembered and loved.

Projected Film: Booksmart Review – A Wilde Ride!

The cinematography in Booksmart is also something to be envied. Ranging from beautiful underwater pool shots, an imaginary ballroom dance scene in a dimly lit ethereal hallway, or sweeping panoramic shots at a crowded house party, Jason McCormick and Wilde ensure each scene is crafted with precision and artistic beauty. Despite Booksmart being Wilde’s feature film directorial debut, she has in the past directed short films and music videos for the likes of The Red Hot Chili Peppers which no doubt helped her along the way.

Booksmart is a fond ode to teenage years and the innocence and confusion that comes with them. It’s a lot of fun and filled to the brim with characters you can’t help but love. It’s forward-thinking, inclusive, and manages to do so without being preachy or sacrificing any humour. Whether it’s Molly and Amy accidentally blasting porn through a taxi’s speakers, unknowingly eating hash brownies, or fumbling their way through their first romantic encounters, you’ll be left crying with laughter. Make sure you see this film – it’s with no-doubt one of 2019’s best.

To watch the trailer – click here.

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