Starring: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley
Written by: Tim Tharp (novel), Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Directed by: James Ponsoldt
My Rating: 5.4
Clairometer: Erin Brockovich
Worth: no money, 2 hours heavily multi-tasked
My friend who has extreme difficulty expressing any opinions on films, be them positive or negative (which she will readily admit), said something quite profound when we exited the theater: "It was just a little too real." I couldn't have said it better myself, and in fact I haven't as noted by the title to this review. Viewers at Sundance loved it. I saw in USA Today that it was named the best film of the summer. And while the acting, writing, direction and everything else I usually care about were above average, there was still something not quite right.
There is a growing trend of improvisation in independent movies these days, as well as less manufactured lighting, makeup, hair and costumes. I get it though. It's an esthetic. But for some reason, unless there is an extensive plot line or fabulous dialogue (see my post on The Place Beyond the Pines) it leaves a bad taste in my mouth and me feeling as though I could glean the same images going back to my hometown and people-watching at our local mall: Lots of tangled hair and dirty shirts, and overly frequent stuttering. Call me crazy, but movies are supposed to entertain us. That is their purpose at their core. I felt completely unentertained.
It tales a story of an alcoholic (but this doesn't seem to be the point of the film) high school senior who can't get his life on track until he meets, hurts and loves a plain girl from his class. Their love story is unremarkable. Apart from specific details, it seems to be just like the tale of every other teenager's love story. The girl is too gullible and open with her heart (although I suppose that it is just every teenage girl. I don't know. I never was one). No viewer in his or her right mind would bet on the couple lasting past high school.
But I should note that at the current time stamp of this article, the film has a 93% with viewers on Rotten Tomatoes. Clearly I'm missing something.