Film Review: Riveting ‘The Spectacular Now’ Finds Rare Truth in Young Characters

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CHICAGO – Sundance hit (and Chicago Critics Film Festival Closing Night film) “The Spectacular Now” finally opens in Chicago tomorrow, August 9, 2013 and the film’s already-impressive legion of fans is only going to grow as this stunning achievement hits more markets around the country. Touching, funny, romantic, and so remarkably real, James Ponsoldt’s teen drama captures a truth about our formative years that so many other similar films fail to come close to grasping. It has earned comparisons to Cameron Crowe’s work, most notably “Say Anything…,” and unlike most of the occasions when critics use an old film instead of saying something about the new one, this one rings true. I missed the film at Sundance but saw it at CCFF in April. I haven’t seen a better film since. Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

We all knew Sutter (Miles Teller) in high school (as the saying goes, if you didn’t know him, you probably were him). Sutter is that incredibly popular kid with a social skill set that makes him king of adolescence but doesn’t exactly push him to becoming a successful adult. He drinks to the point of passing out far too often and can’t maintain a relationship with the beautiful and popular Cassidy (Brie Larson). The kid who’s too cool for the room and always slightly drunk may be the one that we’re drawn to in adolescence but he gets a lot less interesting in college and becomes the town drunk by the time he’s an adult. That guy you see at the bar in the middle of the day? He was probably as popular as Sutter in high school.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “The Spectacular Now” in our reviews section.

What’s notable about Sutter’s arc in “The Spectacular Now” is that this fully-realized character is given a mirror in which to check himself through an unlikely romance with an intellectual, unpopular girl named Aimee (Shailene Woodley). When Sutter wakes up on Aimee’s lawn, he joins her in her morning paper route and a connection is made. What does Sutter see in Aimee, the girl that most of his friends won’t talk to? What does Aimee see in this abrasive jerk? That’s up for you to decide. She softens his edges and he seems to give her a little bit of confidence but it’s not your typical, starry-eyed Young Adult romance. As graduation day nears, Sutter begins to dig deeper into his own personality flaws, even tracking down his father, a scene-stealing Kyle Chandler. There’s a moment between Teller, Woodley, and Chandler late in the film that is breathtaking in its heartbreak.

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “The Spectacular Now” review.

“The Spectacular Now” stars Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, and Brie Larson. It was written by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber and directed by James Ponsoldt. It opens in Chicago on August 9, 2013, and is now playing in some markets.

The Spectacular Now
The Spectacular Now
Photo credit: A24

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