First Hit: I thoroughly enjoyed this film and thought it was well crafted.
I had a friend in high school who acted a lot like Sutter (played by Miles Teller). My friend had a quick smile, drank quite a bit to become the life of the party, and didn’t seem to want to plan something for his future. He became a drunk and died, for the most part, alone.
Sutter drinks all the time. He’s a very young functional alcoholic. He goes to school, he works and attempts to have relationships, but all his girlfriends end up seeing the light that there is no future for them with him, so they drop him and move on.
This film is about his beginning to see how he is screwing up his life. What helps him? Aimee (Shailene Woodley) is a girl he actually begins to care about. In helping her stand up to her mom, she helps him find out about his dad Tommy (Kyle Chandler) as he begins to reconcile the truth and his mom’s version of the truth of his father.
His mom Sara (Jennifer Jason Leigh), had kept Sutter sheltered from his father because, his father didn’t care, drank too much, and never cared about the future. When he glimpses his future through his father he begins to realize that his life of drinking, blackouts, and non-commitment won’t work.
Teller was fantastic as the guy who doesn’t care except to have a good time, only to find out his life may add up to little in the end. Woodley is sublime. Her subtle opening up as the plain unpopular girl have her first time boyfriend was extraordinary. Chandler was perfect as the good-time guy who didn’t and won’t make anything of his life. Leigh was great in her one major scene as her son begins to figure out that if he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’ll keep getting what he is getting. Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber wrote a very strong pointed screenplay. James Ponsoldt crisply and confidently directed this story and the actors.
Overall: This was a very thoughtful film and experience.