Booksmart: A love letter to the female friendship

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Booksmart: A love letter to the female friendship

(COURTESY / ANNAPURNA PICTURES)

(COURTESY / ANNAPURNA PICTURES)

(COURTESY / ANNAPURNA PICTURES)

AJ WELKER

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By telling the story of two typical, albeit quirky teenagers facing an identity crisis at the age of eighteen, Booksmart doesn’t settle for an ordinary story about the traditionally overplayed and overbearing obstacles of ‘being a teen.’ Booksmart instead focuses on the far more interesting and far more engaging angle of the female friendship, proving that this bildungsroman isn’t just cute- it’s a masterpiece.

(COURTESY / ANNAPURNA PICTURES)

Starring Beanie Feldstein as Molly and Kaitlyn Dever as Amy, Booksmart follows two straight A students on their last day of high school, realizing that, though their academic achievements and dedication to schoolwork has earned them acceptances to prestigious universities, their classmates who have partied throughout high school found themselves accepted to the same esteemed colleges.

Molly, determined to not be labelled as all work and no play drags her best friend for a night they’ll never forget- no matter how badly they may want to.

Booksmart is laugh out loud hilarious- it’s not an indie film that relies solely on dry humor to only appeal to a certain niche of audiences. Everyone can find a bit of themselves in Booksmart, whether that’s in Molly and Amy, or within the smorgasbord of supporting characters that add to the authenticity of the high school experience.

While Feldstein and Dever deliver truly stunning and honest performances, their cast mates help build the environment around them that makes Booksmart believable. Noah Galvin, star of The Real O’Neals on ABC and frequent Broadway performer expertly portrays George, an over the top, exuberant theatre kid who finds himself critiquing karaoke at the party of the year, in only the way a theatre snob can.

Billie Catherine Lourd is comedic excellence as Gigi. Her presence is welcome on screen, but it’s never overpowering, and doesn’t distract from the overall authenticity of the film. Skyler Gisondo as Jared and Diana Silver as Hope give Molly and Amy love interests that accurately represent the complications of dating

(COURTESY / ANNAPURNA PICTURES)

in high school. The stories aren’t forced or overzealous in their attempt to entangle what teenage romance is.

Booksmart features a star studded cast in minor roles that allows the story of Molly and Amy to live in the limelight. Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, and Saturday Night Live alumni Jason Sudeikis and Michael Patrick O’Brien are just a few big names who have smaller roles that highlight their comic chops without distracting from the plot and heart of the film.

The authenticity that drives Booksmart, while expertly delivered through the masterful cast, is derived from the brilliance of  writers Sarah Haskins, Katherine Silberman, Susanna Fogel, and Emily Halpern. Their storytelling from opening to closing frame sucks audiences in, and keeps them there.

But it’s Olivia Wilde’s directorial ability that truly guides the story. Her transformation from script to screen looks effortless, proving it was anything but. Wilde allows the story to be what it is. She doesn’t attempt to make it something it’s not. Booksmart is funny, shocking, and sweet. Olivia Wilde lets Booksmart be, in its purest form, a love letter to the female friendship.