If you're not a film blogger, PR person or industry insider, you may not have heard of the upcoming indie drama "The Spectacular Now." But a week from now when the Sundance Film Festival is winding down, the title could be on everyone's lips.
It's already high on our list of the 25 Most Anticipated Films To See At Sundance, and reasons why you should care and pay attention beyond that are myriad. The film is directed by James Ponsoldt, who came out of nowhere last year and made a strong name for himself with the alcoholism drama "Smashed," which pulledthe best performance to date out of actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead ("Breaking Bad" actor Aaron Paul also co-starred). It's also written by Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter the guys who penned the Sundance breakout hit, "(500) Days Of Summer."
Its leads are on the verge too. While mostly an unknown outside the industry, we've already detailed out why Hollywood is placing a strong bet on actor Miles Teller, who first received acclaim by giving as good as he got opposite Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole" (which earned her an Oscar nom). Shailene Woodley was nominated for a Golden Globe for her turn as George Clooney's daughter in Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" last year and her cachet is about to increase as the star of an upcoming YA novel adaptation ("Divergent") that could become the next "Hunger Games," and a role in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2."
The film also boasts a pretty impressive supporting cast that includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyle Chandler, "Breaking Bad" co-star Bob Odenkirk, "The Wire" alum Andre Royo, "The Hunger Games" actor Dayo Okeniyi and more. Here's what the Sundance Film Festival has to say thus far:
Sutter Keely (Teller) lives in the now. It’s a good place for him. A high school senior, charming and self-possessed, he’s the life of the party, loves his job at a men’s clothing store, and has no plans for the future. A budding alcoholic, he’s never far from his supersized, whisky-fortified 7UP cup. But after being dumped by his girlfriend, Sutter gets drunk and wakes up on a lawn with Aimee Finicky (Woodley) hovering over him. Not a member of the cool crowd, she’s different: the “nice girl” who reads science fiction and doesn’t have a boyfriend. She does have dreams, while Sutter lives in a world of impressive self-delusion. And yet they’re drawn to each other. Adapted from Tim Tharp’s novel, "The Spectacular Now" captures the insecurity and confusion of adolescence without looking for tidy truths. Young actors rarely portray teens with the maturity that Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley display, and they are phenomenal together. Funny, compassionate, and poignant, James Ponsoldt’s third feature again demonstrates his ability to lay bare the souls of his characters.
Ponsoldt sounds pretty happy with the script too. In his "Meet The Filmmakers" Sundance video clip below he elucidates on the film's tone by calling it, "a serious adult love story where the characters happen to be teenagers." Saying he looked at Peter Bogdanovich's "The Last Picture Show" and "Splendor In The Grass" for inspiration, the filmmaker said, "It's a film that tries to dignify the adolescent experience in all its complexities."
"The Spectacular Now" debuts at Sundance on Friday, January 18 and plays several times overt the course of the 10-day festival that runs Jan 17-27. Check out two exclusive photos from the film below.