The Spectacular Now
Thursday 10th October, 6.15pm – Hackney Picturehouse, Screen 1
Friday 11th October, 9pm – Curzon Mayfair, Screen 1
Sunday 20th October, 12.30pm – Odeon West End, Screen 2
Adapted from Tim Tharp’s young adult novel of the same name, The Spectacular Now is about growing up, falling in love and finding redemption. The central premise is nothing new: a wild, “popular” high-school student becomes involved with a wallflower peer who alters his outlook on life. The difference in this film is in the characters themselves, along with the story’s firm roots in reality.
Protagonist Sutter (Miles Teller, Project X) is charming, loyal and vows to always “live in the now”. However, it becomes quietly evident early on that he is also a functioning alcoholic, and when the frivolity of “the now” is no longer enough for his girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson, 21 Jump Street), Sutter finds himself newly single, more reckless than ever and in need of a distraction. Enter Aimee (Shailene Woodley, The Descendants), a timid and self-aware “good girl”. Ever compassionate, Sutter takes it upon himself to right the apparent wrongs in Aimee’s life, and consequently finds himself confronted with demons of his own.
Teller and Woodley’s performances are strikingly genuine. With such attention to detail (overlapping dialogue, nervous tics, awkward giggles during a first-time sex scene), the characters become almost tangible. Stunning as the big-hearted but self-destructive Sutter, Miles Teller promises to be a breakout talent. Meanwhile, Shailene Woodley exudes a warm, happy air that speaks for Sutter’s fascination with Aimee.
The production keeps up with the high standard of authenticity throughout – and does so in every aspect. Refreshingly, the stars even look the age of their characters in plain clothes and bare faces, rather than the ultra-fashionable, polished beauties so often portraying teenagers in Hollywood. Moreover, the movie is neither glossy nor high-concept, but it resonates because the central struggle is so simple and real.
Despite its simple plot and lack of resolution, The Spectacular Now is utterly satisfying – in fact, it is the best new example of the adage “less is more”. Sutter and Aimee are very easy characters to become heavily invested in, and Teller and Woodley are humbly spectacular. This is undoubtedly a film to be treasured and watched over and over.
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Watch the trailer for The Spectacular Now here: