‘The Spectacular Now’ Goes For Reality

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Maybe you remember a little film a couple years back called The Descendants. Nominated for some Academy Awards, generated a lot of talk, and demanded you take seriously one of its stars. No, not George Clooney–but the young Shailene Woodley.

I was so impressed with Woodley’s performance that I was shocked when she wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The girl stole the film. And having previously watched her in The Secret Life of the American Teenager on ABC Family, I hadn’t exactly been expecting big things from her. But once I saw The Descendants, I knew this girl was one to watch.

So watch we will. Her next project, The Spectacular Now, is due out in limited release on August 2 after having a great debut at the Sundance Film Festival back in January. The quote on the movie poster says, “Hits you like a shot in the heart.” And that’s sort of what the buzz surrounding this film is already starting to do.

Take a look at this scene from the film–just released this week–which depicts the budding relationship Aimee (Woodley) and Sutter (Miles Teller).

What’s unusual about this scene is that it’s all one take. What does that mean, exactly? It means that the strength of this scene depends on Woodley and Teller’s acting ability, not someone parsing it together for them in the editing room. The Spectacular Now is going for realism, for genuine emotion, for a movie with breath and a heartbeat.

Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller in "The Spectacular Now."

Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller in “The Spectacular Now.”

The last thing I’ll say about this is that I happened to see Woodley on The View this morning (my Grandma watches it, sue me). They showed this clip and Woodley said how real they wanted this film to feel. She doesn’t wear any makeup during the film, so you can see her as an actual teenager falling in love, not some glossed over Hollywood starlet. She said, “It reminds me of an old John Hughes film.”

Which is perfect code to get to my heart, but it means this: We’re making a film about being young and stupid and what that really means, not some Disney Channel, commercialized version of it. Bring the high school movie back in all its glory, Shailene. I can’t wait to see it.

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