Film Review: ‘Banana Split’

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We watched an advanced screening of upcoming indie romance ‘Banana Split.’ Check out our review of this not-to-be-missed film below. Also check out our exclusive interviews with the cast and filmmakers of the film HERE!

 

 

Official synopsis: 

Over the course of a summer, two teenage girls develop the perfect kindred spirit friendship, with one big problem: one of them is dating the other’s ex.

High school classmates April, Nick, and Ben are a close circle of friends up until the summer before college when April and Nick, who have been dating for two years, suddenly break up. As Ben struggles to maintain both friendships, he introduces his childhood friend Clara who begins to date Nick and covertly becomes best friends with April. Now Ben is stuck in the middle, hanging out with the two girls behind his best friend’s back. Plus, Nick and April still have feelings for each other. Now everyone has secrets and everyone feels like the third wheel. The group’s dynamic gets very complicated as they try to navigate their last few weeks together before leaving town.

 

Photos from the LA Film Festival premiere:

 

 

Reviewer’s thoughts: 

Banana Split is the telling of a complicated dynamic between three people in the span of a summer between high school graduation and the start of college. The film begins with an extensive montage of a relationship filled with all the beauty that comes with a first love. A lot of memorable moments are captured in this montage, such as the moment when two people go from being friends to more than friends – this is done in adorable fashion when Nick (Dylan Sprouse) tells April (Hannah Marks) that they don’t have some things in common so perhaps they shouldn’t be friends – and is one of my favorite scenes from the film. The little moments are captured too. Birthday gift pranks, teasing of Nick’s obsession with “Call Me Maybe,” a little precocious sister. Towards the end of the montage you also get a dose of realism – the fights about stupid, small stuff, the looming decision of where to go to college and how it might separate you, fights about friends and cell phones and video games. It ends with their break up on graduation day and lots of crying as they realize their lives are leading in different directions. 

But life isn’t that simple. Feelings don’t just get turned off when you want them to. April spends most of her days reminiscing, obsessing, and unable to move on from her ex. I think anyone who has ever been through a break-up can understand this crazy mindset you slip into. April finds out Nick is seeing a new girl, and this leads April to “stalk” the new girl Clara (Liana Liberato). 

The two girls inevitably meet at a party, but what you don’t expect is they become fast friends. Their friendship becomes the main focal point of the film. Each one has suspicious reasons for wanting to talk to one another at first, but the motives quickly dissolve once they realize how much each needs the other at that moment in their lives. This of course isn’t without its complications. Though they set “rules” for their friendship, which involves not talking about Nick, or revealing their friendship to him, there are moments where his presence is unavoidable. 

I won’t spoil the ending, because you should definitely watch and see how things unfold on your own, but I will say that the conclusion was very satisfying, very realistic and potentially not what you’d expect. 

My favorite thing about this film – among many favorites – is how the film handled each character’s emotional journey. This is a testament to the top-notch writing of the film. It would’ve been so easy for the film to allude to April being a “crazy ex-girlfriend” or Nick being a selfish player. But the film doesn’t showcase or entertain these clichés for a second. Instead what you have is real, raw, powerful emotions of the three in a display of emotional intelligence that’s not seen in high school films. Every individual story within this overarching story is treated with consideration and thoughtfulness. Again, I have to give credit to the writing here. The characters were all so thoroughly thought out and crafted, and the payoff is clear when you watch the film. 

The casting of the main three – Dylan Sprouse, Hannah Marks and Liana Liberato – was perfection. I must admit when I first read the synopsis of the film before watching it, I expected to identify with and feel for Clara. But when I watched the film, my heart continuously broke for April and I fell in love with Nick. Dylan Sprouse (and his gorgeous long locks) brought out a playful and down-to-Earth side of his character. Liana Liberato has this intriguing look to her that makes you want to know more. Hannah Marks brings forward this tangible vulnerability that she also often masks. 

Ultimately what one would’ve expected on the surface to turn into a love triangle and two women vying for the attention of the leading man, turned into something else entirely, something much more meaningful. It was a film about a beautiful friendship that rose up despite crazy circumstances. It was about first loves and first heartbreaks. All of these things told in a way that was real, raw, and powerful. Feelings showcased in a way that didn’t irrationalize or demean what the person was feeling, but instead fully embraced it in a way you just don’t see in films anymore.

I cannot recommend this film enough. I highly recommend you go see it as soon as it’s available. Banana Split recently played at the Los Angeles Film Festival and has not announced a release date. We will be sure to announce any distribution updates as soon as they’re available. Until then, feel free to check out our exclusive interviews from the red carpet HERE!