‘The Spectacular Now’ (Post #131)
Every once in a while there comes a film that connects to me in a way that cannot be ignored. The Spectacular Now punched me repeatedly in the chest and left me lying on the theater’s sticky floor. At least, that is what it felt like. I am not saying this movie is particular sad, but it certainly succeeds in by making us remember a time in our lives that closely reflects the story that is The Spectacular Now.
I went to see The Spectacular Now with two friends, one who is studying film with me, the other a recent graduate from our program. When I am with either of the two we will undoubtedly talk movies, and that is what we did the 30 min trip to the theater and back. I wish I could relay the conversation we had about this movie, but certainly that couldn’t be written too easily, what with all our fragmented sentences and how we couldn’t stay one narrow path of conversation, rather we stray to blurt out anything and everything that comes to mind. But I will try my best.
Visually, The Spectacular Now is anything but glamorous. This story is projected in a realistic version of our world today, nothing it glossy, nothing sparkling, everything is as it should be, naturally beautiful. From the dark hallways of the school, to the early afternoon lit lunch room, it is here we remember our days in high-school, thinking back and realizing there was nothing lustrous about our school building, it was really rather dull. This subtly beautiful visual style is reflected perfectly to our two main actors, Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley.
Much like the natural lighting scheme, the actors are nothing more than themselves. Shailene Woodley wears no makeup in this film, accept during the prom scene. Other than that we are once again given another reason to be absorbed by this world that is so much like ours or at least one that has past from us years, months or even decades before.
Miles Teller’s work as Sutter is another example of why I have so much faith in this generation of actors. His range is superb, going from the life of the party to a beat up, lost alcoholic teenager that continues to lie to himself that he is nothing but an adolescent version of his father. Throughout this film we see that he is one of the most loving people we could imagine, but he fails to see the love that is shown to him everyday.
Shailene Woodley as Aimee is remarkable. the chemistry between Miles Teller and herself is one of the most genuine teenage relationships I have ever seen. The outstanding love shown by Aimee reminded me of my own girlfriend and just made me appreciate how special we are if we have anyone in our life like Aimee. This love is unconditional in the most dense meaning of the word.
Another standout performance I would like to mention is Kyle Chandler’s performance as Tommy, Sutter’s dad. He is not in allot of the film, but through Chandler’s performance we see this character’s soul, we see his struggle and his faults from the most subtle shift in the eye. It is a hard character to pull off and Chandler is outstanding.
The Spectacular Now is the least glamorized and perfectly translated version of a high-school, coming of age film I have ever seen, at least for my generation. The screenplay captures this world of the teenager perfectly. James Ponsoldt’s direction is on key from start to finish. We never doubt the lives that are playing before us are real. From scene to scene we become closer and closer to these characters, because we we were all these characters so that the twist in the plot hits us hard and leaves us understand and remember to times like these during our own time in high-school.
In the end their details may be different, but our story is the same.