The Spectacular Now
21 Laps Entertainment, US
Release US: 13th September 2013
DIR James Ponsoldt
EXEC Scott Neustadter, Marc Shmuger, Michael H. Weber
PROD Michelle Krumm, Andrew Lauren, Shawn Levy, Tom McNulty
SCR Scott Neustadter, Tim Tharp, Michael H. Weber
DP Jess Hall
CAST Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, Brie Larson, Kyle Chandler
This film is surprisingly powerful. You’d expect a love story on the big screen to be full of cringe worthy gimmicks, cheap sex scenes and ironic stupidity. On the contrary, here is a lovely film about two high-school teenagers who speak, behave and love like two real human beings. There’s a great deal of sentiment at work in this film, I mean this in a positive way. The story requires the two to make love, but it isn’t manipulative and the scene becomes one of the most beautiful ever put on film. The two are smart and arguably understand a great deal about life, yet they continue to make some unwise mistakes. They are on the verge of entering full-blown adulthood; they are both serious about life, despite certain efforts to conceal this to each other.
Sutter (Miles Teller), the boy, is living with his mum; his dad is a divisive case who left the family years back (a sub-plot that evolves effectively). Sutter is a cool kid, he struggles at school, and he is full of energy and social vivacity. One morning he wakes up sprawled on the lawn of a house he’s never seen before with a mighty hangover. This is the moment Sutter and Aimee (Shailene Woodley) meet. We are instantly greeted by a concerned and innocent look of a kind, real person – Aimee. They start talking and go for a stroll in search of Sutter’s car he managed to misplace the previous night. Aimee’s warm smile soon lures Sutter in and he is wide-awake, clearly enjoying an exchange he’s not used to.
Aimee has never had a boyfriend before and Sutter isn’t really looking for a girlfriend, but the movie progresses and simply looks at these two characters in a naturalistic way as their relationship develops harmoniously. What makes this film so intriguing is that the couple don’t necessarily fall madly in love, they just strongly enjoy one another’s company.
The relationship reaches a stage where the two become engaged with aiding each other’s personal life. Aimee has a restrictive mum and Sutter has a dad he hasn’t seen in years. So, they agree on overcoming these obstacles together. Kyle Chandler brilliantly plays Sutter’s dad, he is a dad who just doesn’t care for his son. It is a very sad affair. Aimee is a strong character with a soft manner and Sutter is receptive to this. We see Sutter for the character he really is, a fractured teenager with the capacity for great love and a desire to accomplish life.
This film is far more than a coming of age tale; it is a breath of fresh air on teenage life and a portrait on the innocence and freedom of being young. It is fundamentally a love story of impartial measure. The message of this movie is that we are all living in The Spectacular Now, every moment that we live and breath, and we are all heading towards a life (and beyond) of wonder. What a beautiful film.
Watch the trailer below: