THE SPECTACULAR NOW

BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
AUGUST 4, 2013

In one of the most subtle and engaging coming of age films this year, “The Spectacular Now” not only captures the essence of being a senior in high school, but it also portrays an adolescent relationship realistically and uniquely. Unlike most dramas of this nature, there’s no jealousy or cheating, no lies, and melodrama. These characters come off as real human beings, especially Miles Teller’s Sutter Keely, whose unabashed frankness brings a memorable dynamic to his name. Shailene Woodley has absolute control over her performance, providing an innocence that breathes so real, it’s hard not to take her as authentic. Even Brie Larson delivers a knock-out performance, reflecting the intangible desire with undeniable brilliance, one of her best showings to date. However, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Jennifer Jason Leigh are both stiff in their roles, perhaps to reflect Sutter’s straight-faced home life, but they read false to no favors to themselves.

Along those lines, the film follows a high school senior and his descent into alcoholism and the future’s uncertainty. These are all relatable topics, but the characters fail to realize these shortcomings and are never allowed to become fully realized. Instead, he gets Sutter, who is always drinking, Cassidy (Brie Larson), who is continuously leading Sutter on. Aimee (Shailene Woodley), who descends with Sutter, her first-ever boyfriend, never asking him to change and following along with his somewhat self-destructive behavior. By the end of the film, we’re not sure anyone learned anything and being a massive fan of open endings, I still feel there needed to be more elaboration. With several breakout performances and a heartfelt, original story, “The Spectacular Now” is a delightful independent film. Still, unfortunately, it will not rank as one of the best of the year.

RELEASE DATE
August 2, 2013

DIRECTOR
James Ponsoldt

WRITTEN BY
Scott Neustadter
Michael H. Weber

BASED ON
“The Spectacular Now”
by Tim Tharp

STUDIO
A24

R
(for alcohol use, language and some sexuality – all involving teens)

COMEDY
DRAMA
ROMANCE

95 minutes

CINEMATOGRAPHER
Jess Hall

COMPOSER
Rob Simonsen

EDITOR
Darrin Navarro

CAST
Miles Teller
Shailene Woodley
Brie Larson
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Bob Odenkirk
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Kyle Chandler

PRODUCED BY
Tom McNulty
Shawn Levy
Michelle Krumm
Andrew Lauren

BUDGET
$2.5 million

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