The recent The Spectacular Now (2013) is an adaptation of what is perhaps a fine novel by Tim Tharp, for the movie itself is agreeable. It deals honestly with young love, with primary characters Sutter and Aimee. The former is a friendly boy who drinks too much and is distinctly uneager to encounter the future. The latter, a very kind, bookish lass, becomes his girlfriend. It transpires that at bottom Sutter is self-rejecting, maybe self-loathing, which is why he denies Aimee’s words that she loves him. The secrets, the secret understandings, that bring tears; the now which leads people to disregard the future; the way people in love inexorably influence each other (as Sutter influences Aimee regarding liquor)—these are among the picture’s themes.
It’s a romantic film which never gets embarrassing or sentimental. Miles Teller enacts Sutter and knows exactly how to be a likable extrovert (maybe he is one). Plus his acting is not without depth. Shailene Woodley, as Aimee, has what John Simon said Joanna Shimkus has: “simple naturalness.” And charm. Not playing the same kind of girl she portrayed in The Descendants, Woodley is certifiably very talented. Despite a glossing-over here and there, The Spectacular Now is winning, directed wisely by Jon Ponsoldt.