29 Apr 20
This time last year Booksmart hit UK cinemas. The film was a smash for Picturehouse, playing at our flagship venue — Picturehouse Central — for a whopping twelve weeks straight!
Here is a wryly funny and heartfelt coming-of-age story set in LA, where two overachieving best friends Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) realise they may have missed out on the fun side of being a teenager. When the pair see their well-partied peers are also moving on to elite colleges like Stanford and Yale, they resolve to spend their last night before graduation clawing back the adolescence they feel they never had, setting out to find the best party they can.
Booksmart is the debut feature from actress turned director Olivia Wilde, and beyond its casual wit and hilarious setpieces, it has female friendship and perspectives proudly at its centre. Frank and funny conversations about masturbation, sex and crushes abound, but these are handled with warmth and humour. The film has frequently been likened to Superbad (2007) as a teen movie with friendship at its centre. But Booksmart's subtleties and heartfelt spirit move beyond gross-out comedy to propose something new, fresh and feminist in the genre.
What is evident most of all is the film's immediate sincerity. As these two young women go through the biggest change of their lives yet, they hold on to one another with striking tenderness. Like other high school coming-of-age stories The Breakfast Club (1985), Mean Girls (2004) and Lady Bird (2017) the teens ultimately understand that high school will not last forever. Unique to this film, however, is an explicit focus on the importance of kindness and camaraderie in such a hugely transitional and transformational period. Tenderness is at the film's core.
Also boasting a terrific supporting cast including Jessica Williams, Jason Sudeikis, Lisa Kudrow, and Will Forte, it is no surprise that Booksmart proved such a hit with our audiences. But it is discovering the central duo of incredibly funny and talented comparative newcomers that is probably the film's greatest pleasure. Beanie Feldstein was ultimately nominated for Best Actress at the 77th Golden Globe awards.
Booksmart is now available to stream on Amazon Prime and is to rent on YouTube and Google Play.
Our new festival partners Scala Radio are giving away tickets to the festival and hosting a Sundance special show.
Sundance Film Festival: London returns to Picturehouse Central from Thursday 30 July to Sunday 1 August for the sixth edition of the ever-growing celebration of independent film.
It didn't quite come home, but Gareth Southgate's Three Lions have done us proud and their all-star cast made it all the way to yesterday's final.
In this shorter episode, host Sam Clements talks on Zoom to Black Widow director Cate Shortland (Lore, Somersault) about her new Marvel Studios film.
This year's festival at Picturehouse Central promises to be a hotbed for ideas and discussion.