DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
2013 seems to be the year of the coming of age film. First Mud, then The Kings of Summer and finally I had the pleasure of allowing the nostalgic honesty and painful recognition of The Spectacular Now wash over me. And of the three it is my favourite.
When I was about protagonist Sutter's age, life was complex and pretty tough for me. I sort of lived by an 'it's better to burn out than to fade away' mentality. At that age, not knowing where you're going isn't that big of a problem, not seeing anything worth going towards is awful. It's not that I recognised anything in Sutter's character or situation, but his plight and outlook on life and the root of all his problems are basically the same as mine were. And that made The Spectacular Now a beautiful slap in the face.
There is no sugarcoating here and the strongest thing the script manages to achieve is strike a chord without being melodramatic. Urged on by fantastic performances, The Spectacular Now goes from a lighthearted, affecting love story to a heartbreaking soul search of an irresistible protagonist.
I can nitpick bits in the script where it skips over potentially strong thematic explorations a bit too easily, present most notably in the lack of development of the character of Aimee Finicky. I know this is essentially Sutter's story, but Aimee should have been more than just an enabler of Sutter's changes. I would have loved to have seen more about why she is the way she is, if only to understand some of her choices better.
Still, this film resonated deeply within me, making me remember a period in my life I don't like remembering, but allowing it to happen anyway. And being absolutely fine with it wrecking me just a bit in the process as it made me remember that kicking yourself down is easy, getting up from that is the toughest thing there is, but once you do, the now can truly be spectacular.
So I guess all that's left to say here is thank you.
Thank you. Wholeheartedly.