honor society is a strange film, an often funny film that sometimes subverts audience expectations but works against itself with its own message. The Paramount+ the original movie goes in often unexpected and quirky directions despite starting all the tried-and-true high school and teen movie tropes, beginning as a (admittedly obnoxious) type of film before unfolding as a more mature film that attempts to transcend these tropes, and sometimes succeeds.
The film follows the titular Honor, a high school girl who is defined less by her personality and more by her activities. She’s determined to get into Harvard and does everything she can to follow her dreams and escape her bland hometown, but when she discovers that several other successful students are competing with her for college, she devises a scheme to sabotage them all. and earning the only Harvard recommendation spot from his creepy guidance counselor. What ensues is a brilliant, energetic film with ultimately important messages, but ones that can’t escape the very stereotypes it sets up to eliminate.
Angourie Rice enters the honor society
Angourie rice is a very fine young actor, perhaps better known as Betty Brant in the Spider Man MCU films, but was arguably at its best in Sofia Coppola’s seduced him and especially as the brave and sarcastic offspring of Ryan Gosling in The good ones. She goes all-in here as Honor, fully inhabiting another sarcastic teenager, one who dominates virtually every scene in the film.
For better or for worse, Honor is basically portrayed as a psychopath. Unlike sociopaths, psychopaths are extremely charming and can convince others that they are compassionate and caring, while being manipulative and conscienceless. This is why, as reported by Jon Ronson in The psychopath testa disproportionate number of CEOs of large corporations are medically diagnosed as psychopaths.
Honor has fooled everyone, though it’s hard to see why – unlike Rice, Honor isn’t a good actor and is the kind of boring person who thinks he’s a genius but is actually just precocious, extremely boring and quite typical. She speaks into the camera, breaking the fourth wall to congratulate herself and put everyone around her down, pretending to be a Machiavellian master when in reality, she is simply unremarkable. In a sense, honor society is a film told from the villain’s point of view (although other characters are certainly villains here too), as Honor pulls obvious strings to distract her Harvard contestants and cause their ratings to plummet.
Sure, honor society sets up Honor in this way to detail how psychotic and unfulfilling the endless pursuit of success and advancement is, with the film’s ultimate trajectory revealing how empty and pathetic Honor’s life is when not only cares about his own success. As the film develops, Honor’s plans seem to be working out wonderfully, except she realizes that these academically-focused students are actually better off and happier once they’re distracted. by things that really interest them (friendships, creativity, lust). Meanwhile, Honor is left in the dust, sadly pulling the strings on puppets that have come to life and make more sense than their manipulator. The film resists the obvious conclusions, however, and twists several times before and after it gets to that point.
Gaten Matarazzo and The Handmaid’s Tale in Honor Society
Part of the twist comes from Michael Dipnicky, played by the ever charming Gaten Matarazzofamous as Dustin in stranger things. The wonderfully nicknamed teenager is Honor’s toughest contestant to fool, a highly intelligent and highly intimidated boy who Honor decides to flirt with and tempt him with in order to distract him from the midterms; however, much to Honor’s surprise, she becomes the one tempted. Dipnicky gradually proves to be one of the few characters in this film with a truly solid personality beyond mere archetypal trash, and that’s thanks in large part to Matarazzo. He’s a charming actor with an innate sense of comic timing, but he also has the ability to surprise.
Again, this is not exactly an indictment of honor society say that Honor lacks personality; its near-total repression of all individuality and identity is due to the blind pursuit of academic advancement and financial success, and if the film is a critique of that social element, then it would make sense that Honor would be rather devoid of personality. It also opens it up for growth in the final act.
One detail of Honor’s life that hints at an identity is her love for The Handmaid’s Tale, although a young woman who loves Margaret Atwood is not a multifaceted original thing. Much of this novel is concerned with the fact that women are forced into the roles that society assigns them, and one could argue that honor society (emphasis on society) is concerned with something similar. Honor’s attachment to Harvard and the makers of chain dream companies for young women (college success or a family with a mortgage and two point five kids, being a “boss” or a “queen”, having it all) is hardly different from the bondage of pregnancy The Handmaid’s Tale; society simply uses the illusion of freedom and the fantasy of personal choice to impose its prison.
Honor Society falls into the stereotypes it attacks
The other characters of honor society are also enough of a note, and there are few explanations for this. Unfortunately, for a film that may want to attack society and break down patriarchy in the same way The Handmaid’s Tale In fact, his female characters are depressingly sterile. Honor’s two best “friends” (whom she admittedly uses and for whom she has little to no sympathy or respect), Talia and Emma (played by Kelcey Mawema and Avery Konrad), are the worst. example. Good actors have to portray characters that are written as stupidly as possible, to the point that they don’t even look like human beings, just cute robot sheep.
The unbearable emptiness or abhorrence of Honor and certain other characters, however, is important in depicting change throughout the film and in creating emotional and thematic arcs. In addition, director Oran Zegman ensures that everything moves quickly and energetically, filming honor society in a way that allows each part to progress with visual speed. The fourth wall jumps are a bit overused and mundane now, but they’re wonderfully filmed here, with Zegman using some interesting angles and pans to draw our attention to Honor. They’re also helpful in emphasizing how smart Honor thinks she is while recounting her slow realization that she’s actually miserable and hollow.
Honor Society always has an important point and is fun
The film’s brightness and visual playfulness contrast nicely with some of its inherent darkness. honor society is a film that deals with the emptiness of success and the selfishness of ambition, making it a 2022 version of Electionthis delightfully wicked satire starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick from 1999. However, unlike Election (a movie Rice watched in preparation), Honor realizes her own psychosis and the fact that nothing, not Harvard or Instagram or the boys, can cure her. It is a painful process to go through, but which ultimately saves her and allows her to build an identity that is not imposed on her from the outside. As such, honor society is probably a pretty big movie for teens, even if it’s just as hollow and boring at times as the things it criticizes.
An Awesomeness Films and Guardian Pictures production, and produced by Don Dunn, Ron French, Fred D. Lee, Michael Lewen and Syrinthia Studer, honor society is available to stream on Paramount+.