This is a sweet, thoughtful film ~ with an awesome Tumblr that I just discovered, featuring images from ALL the coming-of-age films ever. I did not know that The Spectacular Now was based on a National Book Award finalist (by Tim Tharp, published in 2008; must've been nominated in a YA category), but I see that it was written in first person, and the movie begins with voiceover as protagonist Sutter Keely tries to write a college application essay. What I did know going in was that it was a critically lauded coming-of-age picture, and I am still up for such a tale, even in middle age (God, I hate that term!). Sutter is a charmer, but he's also pretty much an alcoholic, and that was pretty disturbing. I couldn't help but watch this as a parent, and cringe every time he pulled out his ever-present flask, especially while behind the wheel. I feared for his influence on the lovely Aimee, played by fabulous Shailene Woodley from The Descendants. (And, whoa, she's also in the 2005 Felicity American Girl movie, which I haven't actually seen, but my girls have ...) Still, Sutter made me laugh, and he made me cry. The actor portraying Sutter, Miles Teller, is someone I've not seen before, although he was in Rabbit Hole and is also forthcoming in Divergent (as is Woodley.) Meanwhile, an actor of whom I am fond, due to Friday Night Lights, showed another side as Sutter's father, sporting weird false teeth and serious stubble as he smoked and drank and stuck the kids with his tab. Coach Taylor he's not, this Kyle Chandler. The Spectacular Now made me want to go back and watch some of those other films, and now I can use that Tumblr to remember what they are. First up: Dazed and Confused, the one that is ~ I hate to admit ~ closest to my own high school experience!
I loved Richard Linklater's third Jesse & Celine film, Before Midnight. Yes, I also loved Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004). The films stand on their own and cohere as a beautiful trilogy visiting a couple's relationship as it evolves and endures over two decades. The two actors (Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy, who share screenwriting credit with Linklater) are certainly attractive in each film, aging appropriately (and hardly old in their early 40s!), and the setting of this last, a Greek island, in addition to its beauty, offers metaphoric touchstones with its ancient ruins and its remove from either character's origins. These are all "talky" films, but Before Midnight's conversation engages the viewer and compels further thought post-screening. Although not a part of such a couple, I could relate to their perspectives as a human only about a decade older, and as one in relationship with friends for as long, and with my brother for even longer. The film elicited chuckles of recognition, for sure – and a surprising amount of silent talking back to Celine, aligning with my countryman rather than my gender-mate.
When I saw Before Sunrise, did I imagine these two reuniting? Probably, romantic that I'd have been. When they parted at Before Sunset's end, did I see them making a life together? Possibly; I can't recall, but I was glad for their having shared one more day. Do I want to see a fourth film? I don't think so, but I will if they make one. For now, I'm content to believe Jesse & Celine will raise their girls in one country or another, do good work in the world, and grow old together.