“This is the youngest we’ll ever be.”
The Spectacular Now is centered around a couple of high school seniors living in a small town. The film begins with the protagonist, Sutter Keely (Miles Teller, Rabbit Hole), writing his college application essay about his awesome ex-girlfriend and his monumental regret that they are no longer together. Little did he know that Aimee Finicky (Shailene Woodley, The Descendants) would soon come quietly into his life, having a major impact. Sutter is the ultimate cool kid in school. He’s that kid that would get by doing the least amount of work, yet everybody loved him. His interests mainly consisted of drinking and partying. Amy, on the other hand is the studious, hard-working teen whose interests aren’t as popular. Initially they are brought together when Amy spots Sutter passed out outside while doing her paper route. Although they’re complete opposites, they both share the desire to make a real connection with someone.
On the surface, these two teens face the typical issues of high school seniors (craving independence, anxiety about life after high-school, etc.). However, the film dives much deeper into an emotional level that anyone, of any age, can relate to. As I watched the story unfold, I was reminded of the times and places in my own life where I felt those raw and vulnerable emotions. Both Sutter and Amy are two characters that I was able to sympathize with. I actually cared about the characters! I cared about them individually, as a couple, and I even thought about what would happen to them after the point at which the film finished.
This film stands out among the sea (more like lake) of independent films screening theatrically, not only because of the story, but also because the performances were as real as they get. Newcomer, Miles Teller gives a spectacular performance as the jokester kid who uses his humor to cover all his pain and hurt. And there’s something so beautiful and innocent about how Shailene Woodley plays the girl who completely gives herself to her first love. I didn’t see any stereotypes in this movie. I saw fully fleshed-out characters.
I’m not going to say that this film isn’t without its flaws. One might say that the ending is typical for an indie film. But in rebuttal to that statement, I say that indie films are great at not tying things up in a pretty bow. Also, friends that I saw the movie with noticed a scene with minor audio issues. I actually didn’t notice it. I guess I was completely engrossed in the film and a scene with minor audio issues didn’t take me out of it. If you’re nostalgic for films centered around high school like me (huge fan of the John Hughes era), you’ll love this film. And if you’re generally a fan of the films that come out of Sundance, you’ll definitely love this film. The Spectacular Now is extremely relatable and doesn’t try too hard to be something.