Nevertheless, Stone works wonders in collating Olive’s sassy façade with the quirky, confessional twist to her character – a sort of “Olive Explains It All”, with much cooler parents, and a less annoying little brother. She completely takes hold of the film without resorting to hyperactivity to engage, pulling you so firmly within her perspective to the extent where her humility becomes attuned to a view of Olive as an underdog, even though she never really becomes one. Stone is miraculous in dealing with the latter stages of her arc, especially when reacting to a promising suitor handing her a $200 gift card at the end of their date, with the hope that she will sleep with him. She channels popular depictions of the downfall of the good-time girl by launching into a tearful, neurotic breakdown, becoming her creation for a short while, however far-fetched that seemed from the outset.
The niggling doubt about Olive is that Stone plays her with such a knowing sense of superior intellect that you wonder why she cares so much about what her “peers” think, or if she does, then why she gets herself into situations that will inevitably lead to severely damaging her reputation. For the most part, Olive is so aware of how the different personalities around her work; from Marianne’s fickle sense of worth, to Rhiannon’s need for inclusion, to school shrink Mrs. Griffith’s self-concerted attitude towards therapy, that it’s somewhat of a stretch to paint her as someone that can dig themselves into this big of a hole. For all of the apparent intelligence of Lindsay Lohan’s Cady in “Mean Girls”, one can believe her attention-seeking a little more than you can Olive’s, whose cultural idols lean more towards Lillian Gish than Britney Spears.
The film’s gripes about how Facebook etc. are quelling the creativity of the population don’t prevent Olive from using a similar interface to amend the wrongs of her tattered credibility. She presents the scenario of the film through close-up confession, which definitely introduces energy and anticipation, but when this turns out to be part of the resolution to the narrative, it leaves you a little wanting. If Bert V. Royal’s script is a canny instigator of disruption, it can’t quite carry early promise through to a concrete enough final act, tying up every loose end available in all of three sanitised minutes.
At the very least, “Easy A” is one of the more genuine attempts to access the conflicting messages society often projects about when to have sex and how much of it to have, and there are no great political compromises in that regard. What’s unconvincing is the huge gulf in maturity between the two factions of characters, and a lack of middle-ground characters to anchor and richen what the film struggles to say without Miss Stone. It’s difficult to gauge whether the “A” in “Easy A” most constitutes Adult, Adulteress, or plain-old Attainment. One thing that is for sure is that its formidable starlet is the only component of the film that comes close to achieving top marks.