REVIEW: Booksmart is a legitimately funny and affecting coming of age drama

PUBLISHED: 11:12 10 July 2019

Book Smart is showing at Saffron Screen

Book Smart is showing at Saffron Screen

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Actress Olivia Wilde makes her directorial debut with this charming high school comedy starring Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein.

Actress Olivia Wilde makes her directorial debut with this charming high school comedy starring Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein.

When their classmates get accepted into the same prestigious universities as them, best friends and academic superstars Amy and Molly worry they've taken high school too seriously.

So on the eve of graduation the girls pledge to attend the biggest party in town. As long as they can find it.

Dever and Feldstein have a natural chemistry as Amy and Molly. Feldstein, the younger sister of actor Jonah Hill, is a natural when it comes to comedy, as demonstrated in her supporting role alongside Saoirse Ronan in last year's excellent Ladybird.

She is equally at home with dramatic material, showing great range in Booksmart's more emotional scenes.

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Dever is also assured as Amy, expertly portraying the awkwardness of a teen making her first nervous forays into love. Her homosexuality depicted in a refreshingly matter of fact way by the all-female writing team.

Writers Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel,and Katie Silberman pack their script full of vibrant and diverse characters. Each with their own foibles and insecurities but all also tremendously funny in their own right. In addition to the leads, Noah Galvin's flamboyant George ,and Skylar Gisondo's embarrassingly over the top Jared, provide some particularly amusing moments.

The film manages to believably capture the emotional roller coaster of high school life as the students prepare to leave their school days behind.

The premise may not be the most original, but Wilde's direction combined with the magnetic lead performances and a razor sharp script make it impossible not to be swept up in the infectious joy of it all.

As Amy and Molly flit from one party to the next, in desperate search of their classmates, Wilde expertly switches the tone to mirror the pair's mood, without ever losing any of the film's charm.

As assured a directorial debut as you could wish for, Booksmart is a legitimately funny and affecting coming of age drama with a thoroughly endearing friendship at its core.

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