The Importance of 'Booksmart'
Actress Olivia Wilde made her directorial debut this May with her beloved coming-of-age film BOOKSMART. It centers round two girls, Molly (Feldstein) and Amy (Dever), who have reached the end of their high school life. Having been strict-rule followers, avoiding parties to get good grades, it comes to their attention that their peers had fun during school, with parties, whilst also achieving the grades to get into top colleges. Upon learning this, Molly and Amy make it their mission the night before graduation to have the best night and to show their peers and year-mates that they are indeed fun.
As the film follows high school students, there is a great range of characters, which contributes to why this film is so distinct. Wilde has gathered together a cast of characters including LGBTQ+ members, racial minorities and just an all-together diverse cast. The types of characters represented provide different people with a voice and an opportunity to feel seen by the filmmakers.
The most significant aspect is the representation of Amy's queerness. In this setting her character is already out as homosexual, and the film does not make drama of her sexuality; instead it treats her sexuality as a normality. For teenage audiences depicting an accepted queer character is important, and reinstates the message Wilde is trying to display.
Another reason that this film is powerful is the use of female friendships; Molly and Amy are not put up on a pedestal as seen in some films. They are able to have moments where they do not cooperate or struggle to communicate but can forgive one another, which frames these girls as mature. The target audience of a film such as this would be the young and naive, most likely to be lead into toxic friendships. Dever and Feldstein have the chemistry to portray a healthy friendship that is not always smooth sailing, but which is truthful to real life.
Booksmart is not just a film for teenagers, yes it does focus primarily on students, however older audiences can recognize particular characters, such as those played by well-known comedians Lisa Kudrow and Jason Sudeikis. The writers have undeniably made a humorous script and Wilde's directorial choices supplement that well. The representation of these characters allows teenagers to laugh at themselves and lets adults reminiscently laugh at that time in their lives as well. This film can most definitely be appreciated by adults and teens alike.
Olivia Wilde's Booksmart is a timeless piece of cinema, flawlessly encapsulating the age in which the audience is living in by tackling topical issues and portraying realistically modern characters. The distinct soundtrack, beautiful costume design and cinematography are all current. Even in the year of its release, this feels like a classic. For young audiences watching this film in the near future, it will surely become nostalgic. Out of all of the amazing films released in 2019, BOOKSMART might be the most important, as it is perfectly representative of the world right now.