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Olivia Wilde

The high school comedy may seem like a well-worn genre by this point, but just as Greta Gerwig proved with Lady Bird, presenting these traditionally male-centred stories from a female perspective can yield fresh and insightful results. Such is the case with Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut Booksmart, a charming and hilarious coming-of-age tale that’s a quietly subversive addition to the genre.

"A charming and hilarious coming-of-age tale..."

Beanie Feldstein (who played best friend Julie in Lady Bird) is Molly; smart, if a little overachieving, and best friends with the more reserved, but equally clever Amy, played by Kaitlyn Dever in what is sure to be a breakout role. The goofy pair has fostered a deep, understanding friendship with one another, but as they reach the end of their high school career, they begin to question whether all the time they spent studying while their peers were busy partying was worthwhile. As a result, they decide to indulge in one last blow-out together, packing as much overdue teenage recklessness as possible into one night before their individual paths in life inevitably separate them.

While the film is riotously funny, the chemistry between Feldstein and Dever is utterly natural and there is great warmth in the portrayal of their relationship. The film’s script (written by the all-female team of Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins and Katie Silberman) ensures Molly and Amy are richly-drawn characters, instantly likeable but also flawed and believable, and it is the bond between them that will linger in the mind after the credits roll.