The Spectacular Now

This entry from the US to the 2013 Seattle International Film Festival worried me. I was afraid it was going to be non-stop talking heads. We join a blabbermouth young man who is clearly a sociopath, says everything right, charms everyone in his path and serves his own needs, all the while taking liberal sips from his ever-present whiskey flask. We soon realize he is experiencing black-out drunks, so we start to worry. Eek!

When Director James Ponsoldt crafts a second-act meeting with the young man's long-absent father, things start to gain traction.

We watch:
  • Miles Teller ("Footloose" 2011) is our hard-partying hero, never at a loss for words, impervious to insults and indifferent to school. This charming character is a far cry from his pathetic lost boy in "Rabbit Hole." Good for Teller!
  • Shailene Woodley ("The Descendants") is the awkward misfit who is unexpectedly targeted by our hero because she is a "nice girl." It starts as a lark, but once he gets to know her...
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh ("Revenge") is our hero's mother, distracted by her responsibilities and reluctant to mar his happy memories of his father.
  • Kyle Chandler ("Zero Dark Thirty") is that absent father, whom our hero tracks down so they can reminisce about his happy childhood.
Several things were said that I appreciated: a Geometry teacher says, "If a student fails, the teacher fails." A classmate meets with him and as he leaves he turns and says, "You're not the joke everyone thinks!" A friend says he needs "someone to yank you out of neutral!"

To me, this is notable for several extremely long single-take scenes between the two young stars. Very few older actors can sustain scenes this long. Kudos!

First reviewed 05-04-13, this R-rated drama has gained a lot of positive attention from reviewers and has now gone into general release. Expect some sexuality, lots of drinking, and a bit of profanity, but two people you want to root for.
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Check out this preview:
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