Sunday, June 9, 2019

Booksmart


★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

I am now officially a high school graduate. May 28 was my last day of school, May 29 was my prom, & June 1 was my graduation. In the fall, I will be attending Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan for cinema studies. Was I saddened to see my senior year go by so fast? Yes. Was I saddened about not seeing certain people every day anymore? Yes. Was I ready to get out of that school. Yes.

Booksmart is nothing short of an absolute miracle. In a time where most high school films stick to some sort of formula, Booksmart spins the coming-of-age genre on its head & creates something wholly original for the genre. The film follows Molly Davidson (Beanie Feldstein) & Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), two soon-to-be high school graduates & best friends. Molly is the class president, & Amy has been out as a lesbian for 2 years, which her parents, Charmaine (Lisa Kudrow) & Doug (Will Forte) are somewhat awkward about. Amy also has a crush on Ryan (Victoria Ruesga), a skater girl. These are their last days together for a while, as Amy will be heading to Botswana for the summer to help women make their own tampons. Together, they are 100% focused on their studies & have a deep disdain for the kids that party hard, including class vice president Nick Howland (Mason Gooding), rich kid Jared (Skyler Gisondo), balls-to-the-wall insane Gigi (Billie Lourd), gay theater kid George (Noah Galvin), other gay theater kid Alan (Austin Crute), brutally cruel Hope (Diana Silvers), orally proficient Annabelle, AKA Triple A (Molly Gordon), jock/skater Tanner (Nico Hiraga), & twice-held back Theo (Eduardo Franco). English teacher Mrs. Fine (Jessica Williams) adores them, while Principal Jordan Brown (Jason Sudeikis) finds them to be a bit too dedicated. Nevertheless, Molly & Amy persist.

On the last day of school, Molly finds herself in the bathroom overhearing Tanner, Theo & Triple A talking about Molly being so stuck-up. Molly comes out of the stall to tell them that while they were out partying & having sex, she was getting into Yale. However, in a shocking discretion, Triple A is also going to Yale. Where is Tanner going? Stanford. Where is Theo going? Not college, but Google, where he will be a coder. How did they party yet still get into high places? They cared about school, but they didn't ONLY care about school like Molly & Amy.

Molly is stunned by this. She then comes up with an idea: in order to change their stories, she & Amy will go to Nick's big party that night to cram four years of partying into one night. Amy is shocked & refuses at first; however, after some coercion, including the fact that Ryan will be there, she agrees to go. But that night will be incredibly life-changing in ways neither of them will have ever expected.

The cast is wonderful. Beanie Feldstein's performance is extremely outgoing, vocal, & incredibly hilarious. Kaitlyn Dever's performance is more shy, quiet, & still in her shell, & is a perfect yin to Feldstein's yang. Both of these performances are the best female performances of the year.

From the supporting cast, Billie Lourd is, by far, the standout. She is the biggest scene-stealer in a comedy I've seen in years. She is fierce, crazed, energetic, & uproariously funny. Jason Sudeikis also gets in some great moments (one of which got the biggest laugh from me). And the rest of the cast, especially Williams, Kudrow, Forte, Gisondo, Galvin, Crute, & Silvers, give great supporting performances.

Olivia Wilde's direction is phenomenal. Wilde paints the film with an incredibly warm feeling & a visual eye that is absolutely stunning for a first-time director. This is the best directorial debut of this decade.

The screenplay by Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel & Katie Silberman is brilliant. The plot is the freshest for a coming-of-age film in years. The characters are so incredibly human & 3-dimensional, down to the smallest of roles. And the dialogue is superbly realistic & riotously hilarious.

Jason McCormick's cinematography is amazing. The lighting is incredible, & there's an absolutely wondrous long take that is just impressively gorgeous.

The editing by Jamie Gross & Brent White is excellent. The film is cut very well, especially for a comedy, & there's one scene where it's just incredible.

And the soundtrack is fantastic. The soundtrack is filled with modern alternative & rap songs, which are both right up my alley.

Booksmart isn't just the best film of the year so far. It isn't even the best film of this decade. It is, by far, the best film I've ever seen. It will certainly be my favorite film for many years to come. It is a perfect film that gets how it is to be right on the precipice of leaving high school & going off to college, & how it is to have a friendship that makes you feel so warm inside. Mark my words: this will be a cult classic. I'm glad I saw this when I did.

Booksmart was seen by me at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights, MI on Friday, May 24, 2019. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 102 minutes, & it is rated R for strong sexual content & language throughout, drug use & drinking - all involving teens.

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