It's one thing to live in the moment. It's another thing to be stuck in it and dodging the future.
"The Spectacular Now" is a wryly funny, compassionate and wise portrait of teens on the cusp of adulthood.
Teller is terrific as Sutter Keely, an underachieving high school
senior whose easygoing charm makes him well-liked but not taken
seriously. He's the fun-loving guy who drinks too much at parties.
wakes up one morning, passed out on a lawn he doesn't recognize.
Standing over him is sweetly innocent Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley).
top student, Aimee is sunny and hardworking. Sutter is an upbeat guy
with a ready quip. But there's a dark side underlying his carefree
charm. He lives in the now because he can't conceive of a future.
budding alcoholic, Sutter brings a flask filled with whiskey nearly
everywhere - to his part-time job at a men's clothing store and when he
gets behind the wheel.
Will Aimee's influence set Sutter
straight? Or will he break her heart and head down the ne'er-do-well
path taken by his estranged dad (Kyle Chandler)?
One of the
summer's best films, "Spectacular Now" has a combustible combination of
fabulous performances, pitch-perfect script and deft direction.
Filmmaker James Ponsoldt is ideally suited to bring to life the nuanced
screenplay, adapted from Tim Tharp's novel by Scott Neustadter and
Michael H. Weber, who wrote the wonderful (500) Days of Summer.
and Woodley's chemistry is strikingly convincing. With her guileless
smile, Woodley is wondrously natural, perhaps even better than in her
superb performance in The Descendants. Aimee may be smart and quiet, but
she's not socially awkward. She's a well-rounded, non-stereotypical
character, comfortable in her own skin and openhearted. Teller has the
charismatic appeal of a young John Cusack. The pair received a Special
Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival this year for their
Everything about this film feels authentic. When
his boss (Bob Odenkirk) tells Sutter that he needs to promise to come to
work sober, Sutter refuses to give him that assurance. He knows himself
too well. The boss points out that if he were Sutter's father, this
would be the moment he would give him a lecture. Sutter's reply is
heartbreaking: "If you were my father, you wouldn't need to."
this were a less blisteringly honest film, his boss might make an
overture to play surrogate dad. Loose ends would be neatly tied up.
Instead, Sutter simply walks out of the store. It's painfully sad, but
it feels like an exchange between real people, not characters in a
This soulful and sincere portrait of youth doesn't gloss
over painful truths or focus on the sensational, superficial or raucous
aspects of adolescence. It doesn't traffic in teen clichés. Rather, it
compassionately conveys the confusion, insecurities and joys that are a
quintessential part of being 18.