This poignant, realistic and beautifully -acted film addresses issues facing teenagers in today’s breathlessly-paced, information–orientated milieu; unlike fifty years ago, when the gestation period between adolescence and adulthood could be measured in years, months, now it is in days, nanoseconds.
“Sutter” (gifted portrayal by Miles Teller) is a senior in high school, class jokester, perpetually inebriated in a sweet, pathetic way; he wants to stop the world, stay forever in a cloistered “neverland”, ensconced in the embrace of familiar and loved classmates; both his happiness and fear are palatable.
We encounter Sutter in the throws of being dumped by his girlfriend “Cassidy” (solid mini role by Brie Larson); rejected because of his juvenile and destructive ways. One of the finest features of the film rests in the absence of stereotyping; Cassidy still cares for Sutter but is mature enough to recognize his staunch refusal to accept an accountable future; she has to move on to thrive.
Sutter awakens, on an unfamiliar lawn, after an outrageous drinking binge, gazing up at “Aimee”, also a senior; plain, smart and very attracted to the wayward Sutter; their relationship creates the remarkable legitimacy of “The Spectacular Now”. Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants”) is positively stunning as a young woman who contributes to the support of her family; not a fragment of resentment, belligerence or self-pity brushes her interpretation; Aimee is someone to emulate and hopefully live long enough to vote for.
This has been a superb summer of “coming of age” films: “The Kings of Summer”, “The Way Way Back”; “The Spectacular Now” resonates with inimitable honesty, reflecting the angst, the pain of facing the inevitable, taking the monumental leap into the next phase; inviting, hoping for compliance, the “spectacular” to accompany the journey.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!