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Movie Mom

First Kiss: “The Spectacular Now”

posted by Nell Minow

Here’s a lovely scene from one of this year’s best independent films, “The Spectacular Now,” starring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller (who will also both appear in the upcoming “Divergent”).

Director James Ponsoldt says:

This is one of my favorite scenes in the entire movie. I always knew I wanted to film in it one long, continuous, unedited take, walking and talking with Aimee and Sutter, feeling like we — the audience — are part of a natural conversation that ebbs and flows from goofy and awkward to serious to emotional to flirtatious and nervous to…a first kiss. I wanted the scene to feel as natural as life. Of course, it meant that the burden was on Shailene and Miles to nail the scene (in a long take, everything has to come together perfectly — or else the shot is useless) — and our camera operator had to back-pedal for 5 minutes on a muddy, slippery path.


What Shailene and Miles ultimately did in this scene is so casual and unguarded and spontaneous that some people think the scene was improvised. It wasn’t. Shailene and Miles are just that great as actors — so present, so connected to their roles, and so willing to embrace whatever happens in the moment (bumping into a tree branch or swatting a pesky mosquito, hearing rumbling storm clouds, etc.). 

To put it simply, here’s why this scene is one of my favorites: it actually feels like two people falling for each other.

 I’ve seen this scene over a thousand times and I still get chills when Miles and Shailene kiss. I’m so, so inspired by their beautiful work.

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