In this funny and poignant coming-of-age tale, an unlikely romance becomes a sharp-eyed snapshot of the heady confusion and haunting passion of youth. Sutter Keely, a charming high school senior with a flask full of Seagram’s and a quip always at hand, just lets life happen. After being dumped, he unexpectedly falls in love with a “good girl.” The leads’ remarkably strong performances earned them the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting at Sundance. (Watch the trailer.)
NFF spoke with James about his latest directoral effort. Read more below, and check out The Spectacular Now TONIGHT (Friday 6/28) at 7:30pm at the Dreamland!
NFF: Both Smashed and Spectacular Now are personal journey films. What is it about seeing a character grow and change that excites you the most?
Ponsoldt: I'm interested in watching realistic, complicated characters fumble through life, trying to overcome their shortcomings, working hard to be better to the people around them. I'm not so much concerned with whether those characters "change" or succeed in their goals; I just like watching them try. I think there's hopefulness in the effort.
NFF: What was it like working with younger actors? Did you find yourself speaking to them or behaving around them differently?
Ponsoldt: I've been really fortunate -- all the young actors I've worked with have been incredibly dedicated in their work ethic. I treat everyone I work with as a collaborator, and it doesn't matter to me how old they are. Everyone works together as a team and we're all trying to tell a story. Age doesn't matter. I try to speak to everyone in the same way: with respect.
NFF: What do you hope audiences take away from the film?
Ponsoldt: That's up to them! Whatever they want. Whatever they feel. I suppose I just hope that some part of the film stays with them the following morning.