The Spectacular Now was refreshing, to say the least. Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller were phenomenal in their performances. Not only did they look natural, but their emotions were raw in a way that is never shown on the big screen. However, as realistic as the movie attempted to be, there were still a few things about it that didn't quite resonate with my life.
1. It's okay to go through high school without having a love of a lifetime.
People often tell me that high school should be the best time of my life -- filled with new experiences and a first love that will remain eternally in my heart. After seeing countless tear-jerking movies and binging on addictive TV dramas, I have realized that "love" is Hollywood's promise. Unfortunately for all the idealists out there, I tend to disagree. Reality hits me in waves, and after this movie I was washed with a sense of disillusionment. As authentic as Sutter and Aimee seemed, their characters continue to perpetuate unrealistic notions.
High school is the door to unlocking a future that's exploding with opportunities. A good education is something to fight for because it provides a foundation for our future. As much as studying is a pain in the ass, it should top every priority list. I promise, these four years are far from incomplete without a love interest. Although it might be nice to have, I've seen too many broken hearts to vouch that it's more important that a college education. Sutter's inability to think beyond the "now" was disheartening. Even at the end, Sutter is left chasing the girl rather than building a promising future that is entirely his own.
2. No girl should ever change for the guy she is with.
Aimee Finicky was the good girl, the quiet girl, the smart yet absolutely unnoticeable girl. Shailene Woodley did a wonderful job of presenting the insecurities that lie below the surface of someone so externally simple. Yet as Sutter entered her life, we watched little transformations develop -- she became more outspoken and self-confident, true. But she also was thrust onto a path of drinking and emotional dependence.
Words of wisdom: no guy is worth that. Aimee compromised parts of her identity in order to support the boy she loved. Though I may understand it, I cannot say I would follow suit. There is something to be said about putting your success and safety first. We humans have been biologically programmed to be selfish and ensure our survival. Aimee, unfortunately, let her emotions hinder that evolutionary mechanism. Please, don't ever get in the car with a drunk driver or invite your high school boyfriend to move with you to Philadelphia.
3. Sometimes, sorry is not enough.
If I was pushed out of my drunk boyfriend's car, thrust into the middle of a highway and then forced into a horrible accident... there would be unimaginable consequences. The scene following Aimee's accident was the most unsatisfying part of the film. As Sutter walks sullenly into her room, she comforts him and proceeds to bury the hatchet by explaining that he is "all that matters."
Forgiveness is something to be earned and confrontation is necessary for resolution. These are lessons that people tend to forget when they are forcing mismatched puzzle pieces to fit. I was almost relieved when Sutter left her at the bus station -- she was simply too good for him. If it is not meant to be, move forward. Some people don't deserve your excuses.
4. You need separation to gain perspective.
The end of the movie may have been anticlimactic -- perhaps you were waiting for that emotional, Notebook-esque, kiss in the rain to tie up all the loose ends. However, you did see Sutter take a step back and stop looking for acceptance in a hollow world of keggers and abandonment. He realized he did not have to be like his father, forever drowning in whiskey without responsibilities or purpose.
Though Sutter may have been deeply immersed in love, this awakening would not have arisen without the power that accompanies independence. Leaving Aimee allowed him to clear his head and stop playing into other's expectations. As teenagers, we live in a world where we are told who to be and then challenged to be it. Sometimes the best way to escape this vortex of labels and conclusions is to redefine your surroundings. From there, the future is yours. A "Spectacular Now" is always attainable.
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