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Review Booksmart (2019)

“BOOKSMART” (2019)
By Olivia Wilde | USA
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It’s weird how western is an actual genre whilst highschool is not. Like westerns, highschool films thrive because of the accessibility the setting of its world gave them — to a universal conflict that almost guarantees, will resonate with everyone: violence and chaos in westerns, and intense emotional uncertainty in highschool flicks. Whereas topics of lust, of social judgement, life regrets and others may seem depressing where its told from the perspecive of a middle aged man, having a teen protagonist facing those seemingly petty troubles feels significant and of high stakes. It may be an easy way out to lift up those heavy lifting discussions in your film but still maintain its lighthearted feeling (so to keep your audience interested); its a formula that works and has no reason to be changed.
“Booksmart” is no exception. Though it injects a new millenial identity subtlety yet with importance — the heavy reliance of smartphones as plot points and a wide plattera of sexual exploration — at the end it still thread the same line we’ve all come to know. Closer to Crowe than Hughes, in the way it celebrates more than criticize teen culture, it’s a welcomed present in the genre that has grown more and more senile in the previous decade. Sure, the film is equally as crast and the characters are sometimes as toxic or violent as the femme fatales of “Mean Girls” or the troublemakers of “Superbad”, but they’re earnestness and self-acknowledgement resembles most to “Say Anything”, where no one student is the true antagonist and not one character is a simple written type. Wilde gave us more than that; it’s apparent that she loves these characters and so went to great lengths to potray each one fully in depth, which gives the film a live on its own.
Aside from the characterizations, there’s also a surprising amount of technical prowess that Wilde brought into the screen. There’s a lot that she does with her camera and editing that you wouldn’t expect coming from a simple highschool story. Wilde even goes as far as slipping a downright absurdist stop motion scene in the middle of the film, which shows her explorative nature as an up and coming director. Other scenes, such as the underwater sequence, the long oner that follows, and the overall cinematography also bursts with a lot of visual experimentation — something that at the end, gave this film a certain edge over its recently released siblings (“Lady Bird” and “The Edge of Seventeen”)
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Like it or not, “Booksmart” proves yet again the timeless effectiveness of these coming of age stories. Similar to the gunslinger myths of westerns, these young girls struggling with their secret crushes, bad grades, and peer pressures, will always be relevant as long as humans went to the chaotic social jungle that is highschool.
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