Saturday, September 28, 2013

Love Is Bad For You (Film Review: The Spectacular Now)

Are love stories in films a thing of the past? Sometimes I think it is, but once in a while, I chance upon a film like "The Spectacular Now," and I hold out hope that this genre can still exist. This here is a love story, and it is a doozy: it's complex, it makes you think, it makes you question how you react to it, it will make you feel that you are alive - you know, like when you are in love. The story revolves around Sutter Kelly, played by Miles Telley (in a star making role) Sutter is your all-around happy go lucky guy - goofy, witty, "the life of the party". But Teller plays him with a amiable complexity, and we just know that there is a darkness - depth - there. He breaks up with his girlfriend, and one morning ends up on a lawn, awakened by Aimee Finicky, and a relationship develops. She is a bookish straight A girl at school, and he doesn't know her, though she does him. He asks her to tutor him in Geometry, and they fall in love. She does, for sure, but does he? ("At the very least I can give her the 'boyfriend experience,' he tells his friend when he suggested that he would break her heart.)  

As a viewer, I was torn. On one end, I wanted to give in to the cute meet, to the development of feelings, to her wide eyed innocence as she experiences first love, but maybe the cynic in me knows that this can't be too good to be true: he still pines for his ex, he is just using her. The film essays that dichotomy very well, and I love that I questioned myself while watching. Nothing seems to be very straightforward here. Again, like, you know, love.

Perhaps this is why I loved the film. The screenplay was written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, who wrote 500 Days Of Summer, another story that had polarized opinions on its characters. What did I finally take away from the movie? Love is a bad bad thing - it will screw you over, it will mess with your head. But we will always always succumb to it.

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