Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Spectacular Now: Monday, September 16 2013

The Spectacular Now is reviewed as a teen "coming of age" movie. It was acclaimed at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Based on the book of the same name, by Tim Tharp, it is a realistic window into the growing up of its two main characters.

Director James Ponsoldt has declared that he wanted to create a film for teens, one that is not just the usual hackneyed shallowness of too many such films. He has certainly achieved his goal. This is the universal story of a boy, weakened by the lack of a father in his life, told with unusual sensitivity and insight. In this case, the father was literally absent, but too often it can happen that a father is too caught up in his own life to give much attention to his family. Why don't all men realize how important is a father in the lives of his children?

Miles Teller plays Sutter Keely, a charismatic, kindly, well-liked high-schooler in his final year of school. He lives totally in the spectacular present, with no thought of what he is going to do with his life. He is well on the way to becoming an alcoholic, and the seeds of a failed life are already there. Teller plays the part with such an understanding of the character, I was deeply moved. This is most unusual for me, but Sutter really got to me.

Opposite him, Shailene Woodley plays Aimee Finecky, a quiet girl who loves science fiction, and is not part of the "in" crowd. She is encouraged by Sutter to ask of life what she wants, and she grows up and achieves her goals. She too, got to me.

In the end, just when it seems Sutter is lost, he takes the step towards maturity that is needed, and we are left with the hope that he will make it. I would like to see a sequel showing that he does. Teller and Woodley have "chemistry" together, and I would enjoy seeing them work together again.

Rosemary found the film painful. She felt for Sutter and his pain around having an absent father. Karen liked the film as she is interested in the psychological side of the story, but she found it too realistic, and true, to be entertaining.

It's a film well worth seeing, but not a light, feel-good movie.

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