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The Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices

Black Voices: Bottoms is a nonsensical masterpiece

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The time has come for toxic lesbians to receive proper representation, and Emma Seligman answered the prayers with "Bottoms.” Starring Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott, who also cowrote the film, the chaotic coming-of-age tale is sure to deliver laughs and winces as you watch beautiful women punch each other in the face in the name of solidarity.  

Josie (Edebiri) and PJ (Sennott) are social outcasts entering their senior year of high school at Rockbridge Falls. Hopeless and self-titled “untalented gays,” they have been pining after two hot and popular cheerleaders for years, Isabel (Havana Rose Liu) and Brittany (Kaia Gerber). When Josie accidentally hits hero quarterback Jeff (Nicholas Galitzine) with her car, who also happens to be Isabel’s boyfriend, the two girls have to concoct a lie to the principal that they were training for a female fight club in order to make the women in the school feel safer.  

Rumors are spreading that they spent the summer in juvenile detention, and girls are expressing fear after being targeted and attacked by rival high school football team, Huntington High. Josie and PJ realize they can use their fight club, mostly kept in order by their loyal but often let-down friend Hazel (Ruby Cruz), to earn the trust of and eventually hook up with Isabel and Brittany. Although this is their intial intent, they unknowingly form a rag tag female alliance filled with genuine care and love. 

Emma Seligman’s sophomore feature brings a fresh take to "over-the-top high school movies,” in her words to Variety. It’s in tune with classics such as queer film, “But I’m a Cheerleader” and “Mean Girls,” even throwing homage to the former by titling a diner in "Bottoms,” “But I’m a Diner.” From scenes where Josie is pummeling PJ in the face (thanks to stunt coordinator Deven MacNair, we get many of these moments) to the girls coming together for excessive revenge, every part of the movie will have you questioning the absurdity of this small town they live in.  

Edebiri is an obvious standout in the film. She has had a recent and sudden rise to fame, starring on “The Bear” as her breakout role and blowing up the industry this summer by starring in works such as, “Theater Camp,” “I Think You Should Leave,” “Black Mirror,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” and much more. She and Sennott came up in fame together, meeting at NYU and starring and writing the Comedy Central miniseries, “Ayo and Rachel are Single.”  

Edebiri is a star in physical comedy, taking after the legendary Buster Keaton while also nailing line delivery and improvisation throughout the film. There is a scene in particular, toward the beginning of the movie, where Josie goes on a tangent about where she fears her life may end up, that is completely improvised by Edebiri. The entire theater was in stitches, certifying Edebiri as a star in her own right. Her and Sennott side by side leaves nothing to be desired, as you can see a comedy acting duo bring out the best in each other.  

There are stark compairsons to be made between “Bottoms” and Seligman’s debut feature, “Shiva Baby,” also starring Rachel Sennott. Where “Shiva Baby” is aggravating and quietly funny, “Bottoms” is laugh-out-loud and in-your-face comedy. Both are impressive and, in my opinion, five-star films. They maintain Seligman’s tone in both the writing and nonsensical moments she loves to insert into her work.  

However, it is fairly obvious that she has taken on Sennott as a writing partner. There are bits of added crass humor and bluntness that Sennott has made her own, aspiring after controversial comedians such as Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman. If one thing is for certain, Seligman and Sennott have the talent and passion to go far as a writing and acting duo, taking after big names such as Adam McKay and Will Ferrell or Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg

The music in “Bottoms” was also unlike what Seligman has experimented with before. Whereas “Shiva Baby” had a score of piercing notes that signaled disaster, done by Ariel Marx, “Bottoms” instead pulls pop anthems from Charli XCX and a classic teen movie score full of triumph and disappointment, composed by Leo Birenberg.  

The cinematography, however, if you have seen Seligman’s debut feature, looks familiar. Both “Shiva Baby” and “Bottoms” are shot by Maria Rusche. Close up shots of the girls bleeding faces and a camera panning out on a bustling football field bring a new level of excitement, as every hot shot, every gory angle, is put onto the big screen. “Bottoms” is worth seeing in a theater for this very reason — the camera never lets a dull moment occur.  

If you are interested in, as the film’s tagline states, “a movie about empowering women (the hot ones),” then buy a ticket at one of your two local Bloomington theaters immediately. You will not be disappointed, and will be wanting a rewatch the minute you leave.  

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