Director: James Ponsoldt
Starring: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson and Kyle Chandler
Review Written By: Michael Dalton (Prime Minister)
The Spectacular Now is a film you’ve seen before, with it perhaps most obviously and frequently borrowing from another one of my favourite films, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon’s Good Will Hunting. However despite the familiar trappings, this is a film that doesn’t abide by all the conventions and has an edge and even ambiguity to it, which was unexpected. This is not your typical clichéd Hollywood romance story, nor is it the clichéd indie romance story, this film carves out its own identity and by the time the end credits roll establishes itself as one of the year’s best.
The stars of this show are Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. This film is very much the rise of Miles Teller in my eyes. Having starred in two teen ‘party’ movies that I didn’t care for (Project X and 21 & Over) in this film he finally demonstrates the potential he has as a powerhouse actor. His character in this film is introduced as one very similar to the character he played in those two aforementioned films. However over the course of this film he evolves and deconstructs the character he threatened to become known for playing and by the end of the film you truly care about and feel for his character. There is one particular moment in this film, where the character of Sutter has his world come crashing down, a realization that shatters a lifelong perception he held so dear. In this moment, Miles Teller so brilliantly and powerfully, yet crucially silently displays this on his face in a manner that is heartbreakingly poignant. Shailene Woodley had already established herself with a supporting role in George Clooney’s The Descendants, while this film may be the rise of Miles Teller, it is the solidification of Shailene Woodley. She is absolutely superb in this film and like Teller is able to portray multiple emotions on her face simultaneously. She possesses this naturalism and awkwardness to her performance that is incredibly relatable and endearing.
The film’s supporting cast is also solid with two of my favourite supporting characters from two of my favourite TV shows making appearances. Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad (Bob Odenkirk) and Bubbles from The Wire (Andre Royo) both have small but crucial roles to play in the film. Though the most important supporting player is Kyle Chandler as Sutter’s father, perhaps the most significant character in the film. With recent supporting turns in films such as Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, though perhaps best known in cinema for being the father in Super 8, Kyle Chandler is fast becoming one of my favourite and one of the most dependable actors working today.
James Ponsoldt directs the film effectively, with multiple long takes and abrupt cuts to black. The film has an incredibly natural and real atmosphere. Nothing feels scripted, rehearsed, staged or artificial. There is a scene of intimacy in the film, which due to the tone and realism created by the director and actors, made me feel uncomfortable watching, as if I was encroaching upon a private moment. Throughout it feels as if we are looking into these people’s lives and despite all the possibility for it to come off as forced, the film never loses its resonance and power, even as it skirts close to convention. As the film ends, I was initially skeptical towards an ending, which seemed a bit clichéd, however due to the performances and the way in which it was staged, there is ambiguity there and a possibility to read it in multiple ways. It is also important to mention the film’s musical score by Rob Simonsen, which is both easy on the ears and effectively establishes tone.
Ultimately The Spectacular Now is an incredibly emotionally powerful and satisfying film. It is a very natural film that, as somebody of the same age as the characters, I could relate to and appreciated. This is a film that is smarter, darker and deeper than others of its ilk and contains two of the best performances as well as some of the most affecting scenes of the year.
Movie Parliament Rating: MAJORITY GOVERNMENT
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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