Director Emma Seligman (SHIVA BABY) and writer-actor Rachel Sennott (THE IDOL) reimagine BOOKSMART as a tale of two high-school lesbian best friends who want to lose their virginity before college. They get their chance when a rumour goes around the school that they served time in Juvenile Detention, giving them instant cool status. The girls exploit this by setting up a kind of FIGHT CLUB to teach their fellow girls how to defend themselves from sexual predation. Naturally they are delighted when the two hot popular cheerleaders turn up.
The landscape of this film is familiar to those of us raised on John Hughes movies and HEATHERS and Friday Night Lights. It's a culture that privileges the beautiful and the sports stars and is oppressively heteronormative. It's a culture that doesn't fund teachers or books but builds a new sports field. This film is here to rip the piss out of all of that. Not just in hilariously blunt dialogue that has characters say exactly what they think no matter how politically incorrect. But also with visual gags around posters and text written on chalk boards and aural jokes on the school's PA system. The result is a film that is laugh-out loud funny and that will absolutely repay repeated viewing. It features a cracking largely all-female diverse cast. That said, particular props to ex sports star Marshawn Lynch who has some of the most darkly funny lines as the girls' No Fucks Given high school teacher. And Nicholas Galitzine, most recently seen in the Amazon Prime gay rom-com RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE, is hilariously funny as the camp jock superstar.
Behind the lens, this film is exceptionally well put together by director Emma Seligman. The editing is sharp, the music choices stunningly good and the copious violence directed with real impact and flair. Most of all, I loved the production design and costumes. The team have created a kind of era-ambiguous contemporary but retro feeling, as in the TV show Sex Education. It could be any time between 1989 and now. It gives the film a timeless feeling but also acknowledges our shared love of the high school movie genre, adding layers of depth to the viewing experience.
BOTTOMS is rated R and has a running time of 91 minutes. It played SXSW 2023 and was released in the USA in August. It goes on release in the UK tomorrow, November 3rd.