The paths taken by a quartet of high-achieving high school seniors from disparate backgrounds are compellingly traced in “Most Likely to Succeed,” a thoughtful documentary by Pamela Littky.
Filmed over the course of a decade, the film charts the career courses taken by Sarah Kaiser-Cross, Quidrela “Quay” Lewis, Peter Hayes and Charles “Disco” Rider, who all graduate at the top of their respective classes.
The daughter of Jupiter, Fla., pastors with the perky, can-do determination of “Legally Blonde’s” Elle Woods, Sarah wants to travel the world and work at an embassy; meanwhile genial Quay, the first in her Detroit family to attend college, is set on a career of any sort.
Then there’s Westwood’s Peter, the nerdy son of two UCLA linguist professors, similarly eyeing a future in academia; and, finally, Detroit’s affable Charles, born addicted to drugs and adopted at age 2, who “really, really” wants to be married above all else.
Despite their shared ambitions, the forces of privilege and fate will inevitably intervene.
Ideally, it would have made for a more comprehensive picture to have included an African American subject from a middle-class background or a white grad from a blue-collar family among the profiles.
Nevertheless, the film effectively illustrates how the words “Most Likely to Succeed,” written under a yearbook photo can serve as both a cheering vote of confidence and an awfully daunting expectation.
Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica