Clara, (Liana Liberato), and April, (Hannah Marks), aren’t supposed to be friends. After all, Clara’s new casual boyfriend is also April’s serious ex—their relationship lasted two years, an eternity in the grand scheme of high school relationships. Nonetheless, the two girls meet at a house party in the summer after their senior year: Clara is charming strangers, while April is drowning her heartbreak in tequila. The social order demands that they hate each other, and April is prepared to comply—as she tells Clara, “I want a reason to give you a black eye.” Clara is also uncomfortable, having not known that she was dating April’s ex until a week before their coincidental encounter. Despite their circumstances, the two become fast friends united by their shared sense of humor and desire for adventure. Banana Split, directed by Benjamin Kasulke, chronicles this budding friendship. Although the film’s focus—a friend group’s romantic entanglements—may not be strikingly original, its witty script, nuanced depiction of female friendship, and naturalistic performances, particularly from Marks, make it as fun as the last few weeks of summer vacation.
In an early scene, Clara and April bond over Nick’s (Clara’s current boyfriend, portrayed by Suite Life of Zack and Cody’s Dylan Sprouse) stranger quirks—like his tendency to put his lovers’ noses in his mouth—before deciding that if they’re going to be friends, it has to be on their terms, not his. So they set out ground rules: no talking about Nick, and no telling him about their friendship. Of course, the viewers can predict that these rules will be trampled on by the time the film’s done, but that knowledge of the inevitable confrontation with Nick adds tension to an otherwise lowkey dramedy. Furthermore, their secrecy is threatened by Ben (Luke Spencer Roberts), April and Nick’s dorky, blabbermouth, mutual friend.