Side note before we begin; there’s been a trend in my viewing lately, which I’m pleased to say, where I have been watching films made by women AND female led films and it is a trend I am trying to keep up.
Having seen the trailer for ‘Booksmart’ sometime last year and putting it on my watch list, I had no idea how important it would become. I laughed at the antics in the trailer, already loved the two leads and it had a simple enough premise, which meant enough room for characters to be the story. All pluses in my book. But a few months ago, my Instagram was pleasantly plagued with adverts for the film. This was when I realised, this film is something very special. Which is a strange time to come to this conclusion, I admit. It’s also strange to realise that we’ve really been missing a film that feminist and queer orientated in such a positive way. We have all been missing this in our film lives.
Straight A students and best friends Molly and Amy have dedicated their time at high school to working hard and sacrificing any sort of social life outside their duo. But on the day before Graduation, they decide that it’s time to let loose and t prove to their peers that they are also fun. But getting to the party that everyone is at proves to be no simple task, they of course are in for a wild night, with a few revelations and truths along the way.
Every aspect about ‘Booksmart’ subverts the stereotypical high school film, there are no eye roll moments of despair, every second is gold. Directed by Olivia Wilde and written by Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern and Katie Silberman, the film is most certainly from another gaze. Brilliantly scripted and constructed, the film and it’s various weird and wonderful characters are something new to watch. It’s clear that no one in the film is a stereotype and no one falls into the trap of high school film clichés. These teens are smart and (some of them) know how to have a good time. There are elements to the film such as Amy, who is a lesbian, but this is just her and not the subject of the story, like it would be in other films. The film also does not revolve around Amy and Molly finding their crushes, this is just part of the whole night. Finding them is not the be all and end all of the film, unlike other films with teen boys at the centre of the story. Molly and Amy strive for greater things but more importantly, each other. Their friendship is the most important thing, even their differing goals, Amy the activist travelling to Africa and Molly the academic who wants to work in politics and law. You can easily believe the two friends, played by Kaitlyn Dever (Amy) and Beanie Feldstein (Molly), when they say they missed each other and they’re over the top compliments. The film’s story may be about going to a party but at its core, it’s about a friendship and the end of an era.
To say that ‘Booksmart’ is refreshing is an understatement. There may be many films about high school out there but there are precious few that really stand out. The film has been classed as a teen movie, a coming-of-age movie and even a female version of ‘Superbad’ (which it is not), the film is a comedy, an outright comedy that doesn’t step around anything, it hits hard and its actually laugh out loud funny. Having been in two different audiences for the film, it’s a universal hit. But more people need to see it for it to be a financial hit. The way female filmmakers are judged on one film and have a lot riding on a hit in order to continue making films is real. So, go support a film that deserves and needs more attention, you won’t be disappointed.
This was part of 'Reclaim the Frame', an initiative started by Birds EyeView, exploring the female gaze as well as showcasing women in film.