The Spectacular Now (2013) is a wonderfully touching and atypical romantic drama starring Miles Teller as Sutter Keely, a hard-partying 18-year-old who insists on living in the moment, unwilling to consider life beyond high school. Sutter's circumstances change dramatically, however, after a chance encounter with Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley), a shy and entirely wholesome classmate.
Living the high life during the waning days of secondary school, Sutter is blindsided when his girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson) breaks up with him—leaving the young merrymaker bewildered and driven to blackout drunkenness. Awakened by Aimee on the front lawn of her family's home, Sutter is surprised to discover that his unfamiliar classmate is, in fact, an incredibly winsome and engaging young woman. This unlikely encounter proves to be the conception of a flourishing courtship—the disparate couple developing remarkable chemistry as they progress toward graduation and beyond.
Based on the 2008 novel of the same name by Tim Tharp and directed by American filmmaker James Ponsoldt (Smashed, The End of the Tour), The Spectacular Now is a charming and honest depiction of youthful devotion. Teller and Woodley deliver a pair of stand-out performances as Sutter and Aimee, inhabiting their characters' complex relationship with grace and credibility. Kudos to Tharp and Ponsoldt for crafting such an absorbing tale of human connection, devoid of cliché and over-sentimentality—it's an undeniably pleasant surprise.
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