By Marc Woodfork

Two teens on the eve of their high school graduation decide that they didn’t have as much fun in school as they should have, so a night of decadence is on the cards in the directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde. “Booksmart” is charming, funny and as the title suggests, very smart. While many films of the same genre find themselves lost in a myriad of cliches and one-liners and the common default of sex when the story falls apart, “Booksmart” doesn’t fall into those traps.

The script is witty and the two lead actresses buy into the story. It would be easy for this film to fall into the category of “coming of age” teen melodrama but “Booksmart” steers completely clear of that. Does the film have elements of it? Yes, but rarely do we get a chance to see female adolescence portrayed so thoughtfully. The on-screen chemistry between the two leads Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever is magical. It’s a wonder that they are not actual best friends off-screen. They play off one another as if they’ve known each other their whole lives. Olivia Wilde’s effort as director is remarkable.

The authenticity, spirit and heart that the film has is a total credit to her. She had a specific vision of the story she wanted to tell without feeling like she had to fall into the mold that other similar films found themselves in. “Booksmart” has the potential to be one of the generation-defining films that people will look upon as the movie that most closely identified with them.

 

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