Booksmart review – fast, funny and feminist | Film

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Between them, dorky best friends Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) have a superiority complex. Molly is headed for Yale University, while Amy will spend the summer “in Botswana helping women make their own tampons” before attending Columbia. They have fake IDs, but only so they can get into the library, and “Malala” (as in Yousafzai) is their secret code word. The adorable, inseparable know-it-alls feel good about their choices to forgo partying for studying, until, on the eve of their high school graduation they discover that “the irresponsible people” in their class have also been accepted into Ivy League universities (except one, who’s landed a job at Google). “We chose wrong!” wails Molly, hurling a celebratory cake off a cliff in the Hollywood Hills.

In Olivia Wilde’s slick, joyous directorial debut, the actor turned film-maker gives Molly and Amy a chance to prove that they’re “smart and fun” once and for all. As in Greg Mottola’s Superbad (which starred Feldstein’s older brother Jonah Hill), the film places diversions in the teens’ way as they try to make it to The Party.

Both films are sweet but if that one was crass, this is clever, and self-consciously so. Booksmart’s dialogue is fast, funny and feminist, sometimes to a fault, though a surreal stop-motion animated sequence that imagines the girls as Barbie dolls (their worst nightmare) works well. Dever and Feldstein sell the pair’s charged, codependent dynamic, the former exuding a quiet confidence as the straight man to the latter’s bossy, brassy, overcompensating comedian.

Wilde expertly modulates the giddy highs and bittersweet lows of being a teenager, as demonstrated in the way the film’s house party climax crests and then crashes. Wilde cuts between Molly and Amy as they flirt with their respective crushes, luring the audience into a false sense of security by registering each accidentally-on-purpose touch as a sign of encouragement. Knees knock together and then, as Perfume Genius’s Slip Away plays, stomachs drop.

Watch a trailer for Booksmart.

Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Booksmart review – fast, funny and feminist | Film

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