In recent years, coming of age films, such as Lady Bird (2017), The Edge Of Seventeen (2016), and Love, Simon (2018) have been recognized for their representation of the current generation and comedy that makes audiences genuinely laugh. These are considered the “teen movies” of our time; they are what movies like The Breakfast Club (1985) and Pretty In Pink (1986) meant to our parents when they were our age.
Last weekend, Olivia Wilde made her directorial debut with coming of age comedy, Booksmart. This film stars Kaitlyn Dever as Amy and Beanie Feldstein as Molly as best friends who are going off to Ivy League schools due to to being overachievers throughout high school. When they realize that their high school peers got into the same schools even though they partied all throughout their four years, these best friends become determined to have a night of partying that turns into a chaotic adventure.
Being apart of generation Z, this film allowed for me to be able to relate to certain topics on a surface level. Only being out of high school for about year, these feelings of uncertainty and the thought of being away from the people you cherish the most is embodied through the friendship of Molly and Amy. Wilde’s directing allowed for the film to personify the significance and love that surrounds a friendship. Not only does the amazing directing of Olivia Wilde allows for the themes to be shown magnificently, but the performances of Dever and Feldstein.
Their performances and on screen chemistry shine throughout the film. Every moment, their chemistry is constantly shown through their jokes that feel natural and seamless. I am especially impressed with the performance of Beanie Feldstein. She perfectly played the overachieving and overbearing Molly. Feldstein was previously in Lady Bird and played Julie, the best friend of Lady Bird. Even though her role in Lady Bird wasn’t big, she was still able to shine and distinct herself from the other characters through her superb acting. I feel like she did the same in Booksmart. Dever was also able to distinct herself through her amazing acting in her previous role in another coming of age film, Short Term 12 (2013). I’m happy to finally see them in leading roles and be able to play these characters that everyone at some point has felt like or were essentially Amy, Molly, or even both.
In terms of plot, it was nicely paced. Every scene in Booksmart was able to contribute to what it was going for. There wasn’t a scene or line that was out of place or awkward. The things that they got into felt realistic in that world particularly because of the quirks of the main and supporting characters. I got a 21 Jump Street vibe from the plot, but I loved how it was a female friendship and the plot kept my eyes on the screen because I didn’t know what I was expecting.
The cinematography (done by Jason McCormick) further pushed the world that surrounded Amy and Molly were in. With the close ups and wide shots, McCormick was able to capture the world. He also did this through the color palette. The colors were very lukewarm and soft, which I admired, considering the setting and plot of Booksmart. One of my favorite scenes is the dance dream sequence between Molly (Feldstein) and Nick (Mason Gooding). It was nicely lit with the blue and purple colors and complimented the outfits that the characters were wearing. I appreciated the motivations of this scene because it really helped create what Molly secretly felt about Nick and added a new layer to her character.
Overall, I laughed throughout watching this and I’m excited to see what’s in store for Wilde’s career as a director. I am also excited to see what’s to come in the careers of Feldstein and Dever. I hope to see more coming of age film that audiences are able to relate to.