George, a lonely and fatalistic teen who has made it all the way to his senior year without ever having done a real day of work, is befriended by Sally, a popular but complicated girl who recognizes in him a kindred spirit.
Sutter Keely lives in the now. It's a good place for him. A high school senior, charming and self-possessed, he's the life of the party, loves his job at a men's clothing store, and has no plans for the future. A budding alcoholic, he's never far from his supersized, whiskey-fortified thirst-master cup. But after being dumped by his girlfriend, Sutter gets drunk and wakes up on a lawn with Aimee Finecky hovering over him. She's different: the "nice girl" who reads science fiction and doesn't have a boyfriend. While Aimee has dreams of a future, Sutter lives in the impressive delusion of a spectacular now, yet somehow, they're drawn together. Written by
The Spectacular Now is a coming-of-age drama mixed with young love story about Sutter (Miles Kelly, an interesting, uncynical young find who can communicate a lot of different sides to this character without coming off too fresh or overwrought) who starts off obnoxious (but in the way that is believable to the way that teenage boys can get obnoxious) and in the wake of a failed relationship meets a good, sweet girl, Amy, and a natural relationship unfolds in their senior year of High School. While this is going on, he has a problem with alcohol - which extends to Amy - and about a past history that Sutter has to confront with a dead- beat father.
The film that is very well written (based on a book but having that same quality in the dialog and story turns that speaks to their intelligence at navigating conventions) without being show-offy, and performances that feel raw and sensitive and try to avoid a lot of clichés (or that Hollywood way of showing teenagers "like we think they are" as opposed to how they are closer to life), and a strong dramatic story about young love and overcoming the flaws in yourself.
It's not perfect, and has a few little things with the alcohol element to the film that irked me (which is much bigger than what you may realize seeing the trailer, much more actually, it's really a companion piece with this director's previous movie Smashed which is also about boozing), but its real and honest and that's so rare to find in a teenage story like this. Woodley has a long career ahead of her, and has that great distinction of being naturally pretty, dramatically intuitive, and yet is not SO pretty that you can't accept her as a cute teenager girl (or... dare I say Mary Jane in the next Spiderman movie?) Go see it - it's not top 10 of the year great, but it's great in the ways that matter for a story like this.
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