The Spectacular Now
Directed by James Ponsoldt
A hard-partying high school senior's philosophy on life changes when he meets the not-so-typical "nice girl."
See more films
★★★★½ review by DirkH on Letterboxd
2013 seems to be the year of the coming of age film. First Mud, then The Kings of Summer and finally I had the pleasure of allowing the nostalgic honesty and painful recognition of The Spectacular Now wash over me. And of the three it is my favourite.
When I was about protagonist Sutter's age, life was complex and pretty tough for me. I sort of lived by an 'it's better to burn out than to fade away' mentality. At that age, not knowing where you're going isn't that big of a problem, not seeing anything worth going towards is awful. It's not that I recognised anything in Sutter's character or situation, but his plight and outlook on life and the root of all his problems are basically the same as mine were. And that made The Spectacular Now a beautiful slap in the face.
There is no sugarcoating here and the strongest thing the script manages to achieve is strike a chord without being melodramatic. Urged on by fantastic performances, The Spectacular Now goes from a lighthearted, affecting love story to a heartbreaking soul search of an irresistible protagonist.
I can nitpick bits in the script where it skips over potentially strong thematic explorations a bit too easily, present most notably in the lack of development of the character of Aimee Finicky. I know this is essentially Sutter's story, but Aimee should have been more than just an enabler of Sutter's changes. I would have loved to have seen more about why she is the way she is, if only to understand some of her choices better.
Still, this film resonated deeply within me, making me remember a period in my life I don't like remembering, but allowing it to happen anyway. And being absolutely fine with it wrecking me just a bit in the process as it made me remember that kicking yourself down is easy, getting up from that is the toughest thing there is, but once you do, the now can truly be spectacular.
So I guess all that's left to say here is thank you.
Thank you. Wholeheartedly.
★★★★ review by Josh Larsen on Letterboxd
The Spectacular Now recognizes that among the many divides high school creates for kids, one in particular looms larger as graduation approaches. It’s the divide between those who can see a future for themselves and those who can’t.
Full review here.
★★★★★ review by Rod Sedgwick on Letterboxd
''If I were your father, I guess this would be the part where I give you a lecture about what you're doing with yourself.''
I had heard some rumblings about this film. They said that Miles Teller is a bright and shining beacon, Brie Larson is not in it enough and that this was going to be this years The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Those rumblings bounced me all the way to the bank here, because film charmed the absolute pants off me. Note perfect in all areas; from the razor script, the healthy array of talent dotted throughout (Larsen, Chandler and Odenkirk to name a few), in the way it brings the truth and lays it all out on the table, managing to tread sensitively where other films fumble in exploring it's the themes and issues, but most of all in the kinetic dynamics of Miles Teller (the most charismatically flawed charmer I have seen in aeons) and the luminous Shailene Woodley (this girl is a freakin' natural) and the way they captured my heart every time they entered the frame. I cannot think of anything that I would mark against the experience this offered me, and am truly humbled to be living in the afterglow of The Spectacular Now.
★★★★ review by Dragonknight on Letterboxd
Making a teen romantic-comedy that doesn't look lusty, stupid, nasty or cliched is among the most difficult things in the world, I always approach those kind of films with caution because from the previous experiences I can guess where the things will eventually go, sadly most of the times it is only 16 year old girls who find those films “sweet” and “lovely”. But The Spectacular Now is a pleasant surprise, it never overlooks its subject, it has some of the best written characters of the year and what makes it even more engaging is its masterfully smooth transition from a typical high school rom-com to a more serious and more settled type of love story, The Spectacular Now is an emotionally rich film which hits all its targets and its surprisingly mature tone and careful attitude toward a very critical issue make it more than the typical coming of age love story.
The image that The Spectacular Now portrays of teen love is not one of shallow joy and delight, but instead it pictures a more cathartic love which can turn lovers into better people and prepare them for the challenges, hardships and misfortunes of the adult life, The Spectacular Now emphasizes on this liberating aspect of love and it’s needless to say how truthful and honest is this approach. In its second half The Spectacular Now replaces the dreamlike euphoria of teen love with the bitter despair of reality which strikes Sutter and this transformation happens in the finest way possible without looking rushed or imposed, it catches Sutter by surprise and and hits him so hard that he has to sit down and reevaluate his life, his goals and his ideals.
Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley both give astonishing performances, the three dimensional characters they show are convincing and it’s easy to connect with them, both of them are among the most talented actors of their generation and hopefully we’ll get to hear more about them in the future. The screenplay is the film’s strength point and one that is definitely among the best scripts of the year, it would be disappointing to not see its name among the Oscar or at least WGA nominees.
The Spectacular Now is probably one of the most truthful films of the year, it’s not a disgusting mixture of foul humor and eroticism and it doesn't over sentimentalize things, but instead it tries to open a new window and show us the inner feelings of its characters, it highlights the purifying power of love and its top-class screenplay dissects the characters and their actions outstandingly. The Spectacular Now is a spectacular film and one that shouldn't be missed.
★★★★ review by bree1981 on Letterboxd
Really enjoyable, heartfelt, indie romantic drama with a superb central performance from Miles Teller full of charisma and confidence on the outside, however when the mask slips we see his vulnerable side and reliance on alcohol to numb the pain of his fear of failure and abandonment issues. Shailene Woodley is also fantastic as the sweet, naive girl who falls for his charms and may save him from completely going off the rails.
The likes of Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brie Larson and Mary Elizabeth Winstead also pop up in small but memorable roles. This is the kind of film that makes you care about the characters early on and everytime Teller's character got behind the wheel of a car after having a drink i had a real feeling of dread. The two leads also have a wonderful chemistry and i could of easily watched another 30 minutes of this fantastic drama.
- See all reviews