Review: ‘The Spectacular Now’ (M) *** and a half

spectacular-now-carAH, those exciting transition years as life encounters the unexplored boundary between adolescence and young adulthood!

For Sutter (Miles Teller), the final months of senior year have not been good. His girlfriend has dumped him. No great matter, Sutter’s “not a relationships guy” for whom the past is unimportant and only the now matters. His mother tells him he’s better off not knowing where his father is. School is unexciting. Liquor, on the other hand, is not.

Sutter awakes on the front lawn of a stranger’s home. Aimee (Shailene Woodley) is driving past doing her mother’s paper run. It’s not love at first sight. But where it’s going makes challenging cinema.

Sutter introduces her to liquor. In time they lose their virginities together in a perfunctory passage uncluttered with foreplay. His sister tells him where their father is living. Sutter and Aimee drive for several hours to visit him. The reunion does not go well. And the return journey is worse.

Director James Ponsoldt knows this country well and succeeds here in giving those elements, explored so often by other, lesser, films, a patina of newness. Scott Neustadter’s screenplay has good theme awareness. The relationship is a major component. Another, more disconcerting, is teenage drinking. Teller and Woodley deliver their characters with commendable conviction. It’s very not your usual campus movie. It’s credibility level is, well, credible. That’s a good bunch of plusses.

At Palace Electric

 

 

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