Independent films are constantly surprising people. It seems that every few months a low-budget film comes out that stuns critics and acquires a delightful legion of fans. And of course some end up making money thanks to strong word-of-mouth and little to recoup. But beyond movies being more profitable than “Man of Steel” or “The Lone Ranger,” the stories that really connect are the movies that inject a passion and care most blockbusters lack. And the successful independent films have that easily.
A recent example is “The Spectacular Now,” a story of a popular, charismatic high school senior. The film follows Sutter (Miles Teller) fresh off his break-up from his longstanding girlfriend Cassidy. A late night out finds Sutter waking up in a random neighborhood with Aimee (Shailene Woodley) standing over him. From there, Sutter and Aimee form a bond that strengthens the more they get to know each other. They complement each other in a way Sutter is reluctant to acknowledge; yet she sees it instantly.
The film is a delicate and gorgeous story that follows two teenagers as their relationships advances. Absent are the clichés and preconceived high school tropes, and in its place is a touching story that captures the audience. Teller and Woodley have such palpable chemistry that the audience can immediately connect with the characters. Based on the book of the same name, “The Spectacular Now” manages to blend drama and nostalgia while staying grounded. This is the type of movie that, watching for the first time, you’re afraid of what will tear these people apart because you care for them so much.
On the surface, the story feels straightforward, but the execution of the cinematography and editing applies layers and depth not readily seen on the first viewing. It is, by far, one of the best films of the year. An experience felt long after the credits role. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Check your local listings for showtimes and theaters (click here)