Class Rank: A Sweet Film with Heart

Skyler Gisondo and Olivia Holt in Class Rank.

Class Rank is a sweet film about teenagers finding their place in society by speaking out about interests that they care about.

There are two very different teenagers that carry the weight of Class Rank.  Bernard Flannigan (Skyler Gisondo) is that student who will enter politics someday even if it’s not in his current plans.  Veronica Krauss (Olvia Holt) has aspirations of being a Supreme Court Justice but to get into Yale, she needs the high school class rankings abolished.  By suggesting to Bernard that he run for the Livingston Board of Education, it’s a win-win situation.  She potentially gets the rankings dropped while he can change the status quo.

It’s no surprise that Veronica soon begins to develop romantic feelings with her classmate as she manages the campaign.  One could see these feelings developing from a mile away.  How Bernard–with a long-distance relationship with his Chinese pen pal–responds is a different story.

People want their politicians to be charismatic.  Veronica Krauss, the junior class president, has the charisma required to be a politician.  Or at least that’s the way the former Disney star plays it.  Gisondo lends more of a deadpan delivery to his performance as Bernard.  It’s not exactly the charisma that you want to see from your politicians.  But again, Bernard isn’t the typical politician.  While he almost always writes letters to the editor at the Livingston Weekly, Bernard has a future as an opinion columnist.

Bernard is able to set up his grandfather, Oswald Flannigan (Bruce Dern), with the Editor-in-Chief (Kathleen Chalfant).  It gets awkward when he joins them on a date to the movies.  This may not have been the best move on Bernard’s part but it displays his personality.

Class Rank is such a perfect film for the political nature of 2018.  High school students across the country are using their voices to speak up about politics.  It may not be the same as the Parkland students taking on Congress over gun violence by Bernard and Veronica take action to the Livingston, NJ Board of Education.  There’s a resolve in their fight and it doesn’t go away after the election.  Even when the film is over, Bernard and Veronica will probably continue their fight.

Benjamin August’s script is one that hearkens back to the coming-of-age films from the likes of John Hughes or Cameron Crowe in the 1980s.  There is a sense of heart in this film that we don’t really see much anymore in coming-of-age films.  With Stoltz’s direction and experiences in Hughes/Crowe comedies, he’s the right voice to direct the film.

If John Hughes had made a version of Election for millenials, the end result would be Class Rank.

DIRECTOR: Eric Stoltz
SCREENWRITER:  Benjamin August
CAST:  Olivia Holt, Skyler Gisondo, Kathleen Chalfant, Nick Krause, Peter Maloney, with Kristen Chenoweth and Bruce Dern

Premiering at the 2017 Newport Beach International Film Festival, Class Rank was released in theaters, Digital HD, and VOD platforms on May 11, 2018.  A DVD release is expected in June 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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