As we reach the end of this decade, it’s a prime time to look back at the films that defined the last ten years. One of the strongest running themes has been coming-of-age stories based on unique and authentic women characters. From Olive in Easy A, Nadine in The Edge of Seventeen, and the titular character of Lady Bird, these films have been some of the most heartwarming and entertaining of the 2010s. Booksmart is the latest addition to that fantastic group.
Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) are in the last days of highschool before Beanie goes away to college and Amy to Botswana for a gap year. They’ve worked hard, avoided partying and lived by the rules so they can set up their future… unlike the rest of their unruly peers. Or, so it seems, until Molly learns that those same peers are all heading to esteemed colleges as well. Outraged by this injustice, Molly demands that she and Amy make the most of their time left together… and hit that big pre-graduation party.
It might be a tale as old as time, and its promotion as the ‘female Superbad’ rings true, but Booksmart quickly wins its audience over. That’s all down to the instantly likeable characters and performances of Dever and Feldstein. When the film’s humour occasionally falls flat in the first half, both actresses keep you on side the entire time – even if they’ve just hijacked a pizza van.
The story grows more powerful once the big party begins and revelations spill out between the two best friends. This dramatic edge is where the film really shines and adds some necessary gravitas. Props must also be given to the film’s honest and authentic portrayal of LGBTIQA issues – Amy is a proudly out teenager throughout the film and Booksmart treats this element with the respect it deserves.
Booksmart captures the feeling of leaving high school perfectly – exciting and surprisingly melancholy. Expect to laugh, tear up and celebrate by throwing your hat into the air.