The Spectacular Now: Film Review

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Photo Credit: A24 Films
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Most viewers (and I suspect even professional film critics) will want to view The Spectacular Now through the prism of teen movies. It is, after all, about two high schoolers who fall in love and then . . . and then.

It’s in this pause that the real brilliance of the movie lives – and the main reason why you shouldn’t go into the film with any preconceptions of what to expect (we’re not in High School Musical territory here). This is more like the winning The Perks of Being a Wallflower in that it shows that growing up is not about growing old: it’s about that crushing realization that the past is really gone, and the sun has forever set on childhood.

Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) is an above average underachiever. He does okay in school, but cares more about his part-time job and his full-time addiction: alcohol. He gets dumped by his girlfriend and passes out on the lawn of the bookish Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley). She is the opposite of everything he has known – and the same applies to him. Aimee drops her guard and dares to fall in love with a clearly tattered hero. She knows it isn’t her job to save him. So she saves herself.

The great thing about this movie is that it really is nostalgic in the sense that it reminds you about the transition from childhood to adulthood, rather than merely the time you spent in high school. The performances are so nuanced and striking that to say I forgot the actors were “acting” is to give them the highest praise an actor can possibly receive.

A stunning motion picture, and easily one of the year’s best.