A pair of hard-working teenage girls attempt to cram four years' worth of partying into one night.
Films such as 2017’s Academy Award-nominated Lady Bird and the recently released Eighth Grade have showcased the female teenage experience with a near-painful accuracy.
Both films received critical acclaim and now another coming-of-age flick deservedly joins their ranks – Booksmart, an R-rated romp with a refreshing outlook and resonant themes.
Best friends Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) worked hard all through their high-school years to get into good colleges, forgoing parties that their peers happily embraced.
On the eve of their graduation, Molly and Amy realise that they’ve missed out on making invaluable memories, and resolve to cram four years of fun and partying into one unforgettable night.
Booksmart marks Olivia Wilde’s feature film directorial debut and her step behind the camera transpires to be a roaring success.
Surrounding herself with a cohort of women film-makers, Wilde has fearlessly created a teen movie for Generation Z (with a soundtrack filled with pop song bangers) that celebrates all their progressive attitudes and explores the concerns that they face in this unique era.
Amy is a queer feminist who struggles to act on her crush, but her sexuality does not define her. Meanwhile, Molly is the vaguely aggressive valedictorian, but her intelligence is not her sole characteristic.
Both young women are funny, kind, curious and lustful and even their shortcomings aren’t considered to be flaws – it’s what makes them unquestionably brave and immediately iconic.
Feldstein and Dever’s rapport as the inseparable friends feels incredibly realistic, giving the film some verisimilitude, even when scenarios become outlandish.
They are endlessly effusive about one another’s appearance and champion their achievements in academia. However, the world of partying is a foreign concept to the pair and they are forced to rely on each other more than ever.
They squeeze each other’s hands in acknowledgement of their shared experience and whisper “I love you” before entering the highly anticipated party.
Sharing their most embarrassingly intimate secrets and lifting each other up when they’re at their lowest ebb, it’s a genuine friendship that is so scarcely explored in all its glory.
Initially, Booksmart introduces us to clearly defined cliques and high-school character stereotypes; Molly and Amy’s (who assume the role of the academic overachievers) peers include drama enthusiasts, jocks, spoiled rich kids and classic mean girls.
As the film progresses alongside Molly and Amy’s turbulent and chaotic night, hopping to and from various shindigs to reach the evening’s ultimate party, these clichés are subverted, and archetypal characters become fully formed individuals with their own insecurities and grievances at their perceived personalities.
The supporting cast balance these nuances and broad comedic strokes with aplomb, particularly Billie Lourd as the enigmatic Gigi.
Daughter of the late great Carrie Fisher, Lourd has clearly inherited her mother’s comedic talent and channels all of Gigi’s frantic energy into a scene-stealing performance.
She dives head first into a bay, inexplicably appears at the most random of locations and develops a strange fixation with Amy, garnering laughs every step of the way.
However, these hearty laughs are complemented by a surprising amount of tenderness which is fuelled by the dynamic of Molly and Amy and our investment of the central friendship.
In one moment you can be guffawing at their clumsy antics, the next fighting back the waterworks as things threaten to tear apart at the seams.