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“Banana Split” Has A Dynamite Script And A Star Making Performance From Hannah Marks

Hannah Marks deserves to be a force in Hollywood. One glimpse at her new movie Banana Split is clear evidence of that. The actress and filmmaker is a complete buzzsaw, mixing charisma, sarcasm, and screen presence to put forward instantly iconic work. Banana Split shows her doing so both in front of the camera as the star, as well as behind it as the co-writer. She’s helped to craft a funny, moving, and real story that immediately and throughly enraptures you. This is something special, plain and simple. Coming to Video On Demand this weekend, you owe it to yourself to make time for this one.

The film is a comedy about an unlikely and very unique bond of friendship that grows over the course of a summer. For two years, April (Marks) has been in a relationship with Nick (Dylan Sprouse), defining her life in the latter parts of high school. We’re along for the ride, seeing their initial coming together, as well as the graduate breakdown of the coupling. Down in the dumps, aimless, and heartbroken, she awaits a new start in college by just killing time as a movie theater employee. Then, an unlikely person offers up a change in her outlook. It’s Nick’s new girlfriend, Clara (Liana Liberato), who takes an instant liking to her. April initially stalked Clara in a self-destructive sort of way, but quickly they realize they’re actually amazing friends. So, a deep bond develops, much to the confusion of April’s friend Ben (Luke Spencer Roberts), who is also best friends with Nick. They keep Nick out of the loop, but how long can that last, especially when feelings are still involved on all counts? Benjamin Kasulke directs a screenplay that Marks co-wrote with Joey Power. The cinematography comes from Darin Moran, while Annie Hart composes the score. Supporting players include Jacob Batalon, Jessica Hecht, Addison Riecke, and more.

To call Hannah Marks a star in the making is an understatement. In front of the camera, she’s a firecracker, with witty remarks and a spark that lights up the entire movie. On the page, she provides an incredibly consistent amount of quotable dialogue. Liana Liberato pairs with her to absolutely knock it out of the park. The two of them have chemistry that you rarely see on screen. Any scene of them together is an absolute joy to behold. Their interactions are real, vibrant, and extraordinarily entertaining. Marks outdoes herself in making it all come off as natural, resulting in the script singing in their hands.

Banana Split is a supremely well written film, showcasing that Marks is not only a tremendous actress, but a wonderful screenwriter as well, as the script she penned with Joey Power crackles with wit. She’s phenomenal on both ends, with a strong turn by Liberato only adding to the pleasures here. The two of them make for one of the screen couples of the year so far. Director Benjamin Kasulke allows scenes to breath, so an under 90 minute running time absolutely flies by. Even when things take a turn in the third act, the change in tone is handled well and never once throws you off.

This weekend, one of the year’s best movies is opening up on VOD in Banana Split. The film is magical, with Hannah Marks making it impossible not to find her irresistible. Her talent exudes off the screen. Once you see this flick, you’ll understand why. It’s not to be missed, as it’s among the top five things I’ve seen over the course of 2020 so far. You can thank me later…

Be sure to check out Banana Split, available On Demand this Friday!

(Photos courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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