WHAT I LIKED: Few films bring their central characters to life quite as perfectly as Olivia Wilde's Booksmart does its pair of high school besties. We follow them on the course of one night trying to have some fun on their last day, but we learn everything we possibly need to know about them through simple interactions, their bickering and encouragement of each other, and their attitudes to other kids, boyfriends and girlfriends and whether they should go to a party. They clearly depend on each other a lot and love each other dearly, and that's only brought to life because on the one hand the script is so intelligent in the way it uses small moments to build a very clear picture of their personalities, and also because Beanie Feldstein as Molly and Kaitlyn Dever as Amy deliver such natural performances.
Both are strong feminists who work their socks off at school, but underneath it all Molly is scared of not fitting in and does everything she can to keep Amy by her side, whilst Amy's shyness has her use Molly to shield her from having to put herself out there. Like any great character story, the finals night is a device that tests that bond, and it's so refreshing to see two young people's friendship being the entire devotion of a film, as that seems to be quite a rarity. When they're both separated and find themselves in scenarios where other people they like have let them down however, they briefly turn on each other.
Amy reveals she's going traveling really soon and didn't reveal it to Molly because it would stop her from doing something for herself, and Molly gets angry at Amy for restricting her from having fun and letting herself go. It's a highly moving sequence because they're bringing to the forefront everything we already knew deep down about the pair we've come to care about through the course of the drama. Their friendship eventually proves to be stronger than any of that though, and ultimately they don't let any differences and resentment towards each other get in the way of they're unbelievable friendship. Their entire school cohort also come together at the end and stop being so mean to each other, and in the end it winds up being a beautifully simple narrative about setting aside anger and division to accept the differences between everyone.
Couple that with the fact Booksmart is also highly funny, you've got yourself the perfect coming of age story about two friends going on a rollercoaster ride together and coming out the other side stronger than ever.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: It's a hard thing to fault on its own terms, apart from maybe saying that it's not the most profound or affecting film you'll ever see. For what it is though, it's practically perfect.
VERDICT: A film that develops two young friends utterly perfectly and then tests their bond, 'Booksmart,' is a highly fun and emotionally engaging film that ultimately becomes about putting aside differences and letting friendships trump all.