“The Spectacular Now” tells a compelling story of modern love
Published: Monday, September 9, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 9, 2013 22:09
I know what you are thinking: Boy meets girl; love conquers all; live in the moment. These are ideas plucked from thin cliché air and we have all seen it and heard it before. By the title alone, the assumption is “The Spectacular Now” will have all of that and there will be no apologies. Truthfully, it does not need to apologize. This movie is unique because as the credits begin to roll, you forget what makes it cliché. It is motion picture magic in its purest form.
This is the story of Sutter Keely, played by Miles Teller. After a night out grieving—or perhaps celebrating—the end of his latest relationship, Sutter finds himself face to face with a girl named Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley). From the start, it is clear that the two have chemistry. After some soul-searching, the passive, charismatic and irrefutably dim-witted and alcohol-addicted Sutter decides to pursue a romantic relationship with the shy, awkward, smart, girl-next-door-type Aimee. As one can imagine, opposites begin to attract and the mutual attraction snowballs until it comes to a head when Sutter realizes that he might love Aimee more than he loves himself.
Sutter’s newfound relationship is undoubtedly the most important part of his quest for self-discovery. Aimee is one of the few good things in his life, and he feels somewhat guilty about it because it was so unexpected. Not only does she support Sutter’s enlightenment, but she facilitates it. During his “coming-of-age,” Sutter also encounters challenging obstacles, such as his rampant alcoholism, exemplified by his flask, and his mission to find his absent father. In the end, he realizes that Aimee may be more important to his well-being than he previously thought.
Never have I seen a movie with such rich and genuine dialogue. The words that come out of the mouths of these interesting characters are so organic. At one point I almost wondered if the whole movie was improvised, or if the cameras were rolling accidentally and they just happened to capture Sutter’s incredible final year of high school. I feel like I can go to this town and meet these people as if they were still living long after the movie had ended. This likeness to reality helps connect the audience to the film. At one startling point in the movie, these people felt so real to me that my heart started racing until I had to remind myself that these are not old friends from my hometown. That feeling cannot be duplicated or artificially produced by playing gloomy, traumatized violins in the background.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, when this movie wants to be a comedy, it is hilarious. When it wants to be a drama, it can be downright melancholy. There are no explosions, no gunfights, and no fart jokes. The writers definitely have exquisite ears for high school dialect. The film is so real and so refreshing, and that is what makes it charming.