“The Spectacular Now” Challenges Audience Perception of Life

Image Credit // Sundance Film Festival

Lindsay Lillig

As with most independent filmmakers, Director James Ponsoldt knows how to delve deep into the spectacular moments in life because “The Spectacular Now” is indeed spectacular. Based on the novel by Tim Tharp, screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber have adapted a phenomenal screenplay about life and what to make of it.

Audiences embark on this journey depicted through the lives of two high school seniors, Sutter (Miles Teller) and Aimee (Shailene Woodley). Sutter is the high school hotshot. He knows each of his classmates by first and last name, attends all parties and loves every minute. When his too-cool girlfriend ends the relationship, Sutter shrugs off the break-up with numerous alcoholic beverages. He is awakened on a strange lawn by a girl he slightly recognizes, Aimee—a quiet, naturally pretty, motivated girl.

After assisting Aimee with her paper route, their friendship sparks and the two experience life events together. Sutter is reunited with his father who left when he was a child. Aimee stands up for her future plans. They attend prom and make plans for after graduation. However, nothing happens exactly as the audience anticipates. This may seem to be the average coming-of-age film, but something spectacular is still to come.

Teller and Woodley deliver superb performances. Sutter deserves a punch to the face several times throughout the film, yet at the same time he is so transparent that relating to the character is inevitable.

Woodley gives one of her strongest performances to date. In a scene following a rather awful event, Aimee should have been wildly upset, but she was only concerned about Sutter.

“The Spectacular Now”  is a simple story with subtleties powerful enough to make the audience take a second to think about life. Sutter is constantly saying how “living in the now” is all a person can do. Aimee insists on believing in dreams. It poses questions such as, how willing is someone to try to change another person’s life. How willing is a person to allow his or her life to be changed by someone else?