There’s a species of Young Adult novels — and their attendant movie diversifications — that wears sophistication on its sleeve. Mostly for the aim of demonstrating that sophistication gained’t save the anguished teenage soul — see “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” In the teenager rom-com, sophistication normally manifests itself in a near-endless stream of popular culture references.
“Honor Society,” directed by Oran Zegman from a script by David A. Goodman, comes out of the gate flashing a proper and thematic sophistication so dazzling it would take you some time to comprehend it’s truly a Young Adult film. The relentlessly pushed title character, Honor (Angourie Rice, whom chances are you’ll bear in mind from “The Nice Guys,” terrifically interesting all through), snidely dismissive of her working-class dad and mom, has crafted a persona ruthlessly centered on getting out of her one-horse city and into Harvard. A spot the place “mediocre people get outsized opportunities,” she tells the digicam.
Notes of “Election” and “Rushmore” listed below are robust. Some totally grown-up viewers will really feel previous seeing Christopher Mintz-Plasse, of “McLovin” fame in “Superbad” (2007) enjoying the (in the end sleazoid) steerage counselor who feeds Honor the disagreeable shock that she’s truly certainly one of 4 college students vying for his Harvard suggestion.
This information motivates Honor to weave a manipulative internet that grows spectacularly tangled. One of her foils, Michael, is performed by Gaten Matarazzo, that winsome child from “Stranger Things”; Michael responds with sweet-natured goofiness to Honor’s temptress strikes. So in fact he’s the one to crack her cynical shell.
A twist whipsaws the film right into a darker place, one within the neighborhood of Patricia Highsmith. But no homicide takes place, and the film’s decision confirms what one could have suspected all alongside: Its dominant room tone is kinda-sorta that of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.”
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 37 minutes. Watch on Paramount+.