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“The Spectacular Now” – Review (POSITIVE)

August 27, 2013

Screen shot 2013-08-27 at 12.55.34 PMJohn Hughes was the king (creator) of such films as “The Breakfast Club”“Pretty in Pink”, and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. He didn’t really beat around the bush in all of the bullshit that most high school movies do today, his characters were real, genuine, and flawed. Every once in a while there comes a movie depicting the world of high school in a real way, last years was the indescribable drama “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. This past year, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, was “The Spectacular Now”, a film about the flaws of young people and how they find a way to cope and push through it, while at the same time creates a vivid portrait of youth confronting the funny and heartbreaking business of  love and adulthood.

The story follows Sutter Keely (Miles Teller), a high school senior, an effortless charmer, friend to all, risk taker, and constant partier. This is the story about how he unexpectedly falls in love with “the good girl” Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley). What starts as an unlikely romance becomes a sharp-eyed, straight-up snapshot of the heady confusion and haunting passion of youth – one that doesn’t look for tidy truths. The problem Sutter has is quite simple, he doesn’t love himself. Past trauma of having no father in his life, with a mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who refuses to reveal where the old man is, has done a number on Sutter. Sutter turns to booze as his healer, can love mend old wounds, or can it tear it harder than before?

I loved this movie for one major reason, the dialogue. Why is it so complicated to get cinematic high school characters talking like real people and not some phony CW soap opera? They way Sutter talks and acts, I knew guys like him in high school, maybe not his emotional flaws, but his personality, (faux) public persona is very familiar to me. Girls like Aimee, I knew them, I was friends with some of them, still am to this day. These are characters that grab your attention, draw you into their world, and make you feel comfortable about the reality they live in.

Sutter is an interesting character because we’ve seen people like him in past films, mostly they’re adult characters, with the exception of a few films, but more or less a person like Sutter is seen in adult dramas. He’s a broken human being, turning to alcohol at a young age, he’s 17 and is already a full-fledged alcoholic, and it’s sad to see him in this state. He feels it’s necessary to bring people to his level just so he can have common ground, he does this with Aimee, and for fear in all of us, you don’t want to see Aimee reach the same fate as Sutter, but at the same time you don’t want to see Sutter alone.

The relationship between Aimee & Sutter is palpable thanks to the brilliant performance by the films leads. Miles Teller is already on the rise as becoming one of those young actors to watch out for, Shailene Woodley is pretty much already there, with her success’ in “The Descendants” and leading her own sci-fi franchise called “Divergent”. It’s nice to see these two in such an indie film where everything doesn’t have to be about the grand big picture, they show honesty and some integrity in their characters and it’s hard not to buy into it. The filmmakers have casted the right leads so we can have a movie that’s smart, sensitive, and avoids typical coming-of-age plotline. Easily one of the best movies of the summer and of the year, do yourself a favor and see this before it’s gone.

GRADE: A-

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