Spontaneous, writer-turned-director Brian Duffield’s debut, manages to be unnerving, from the heart, and especially relevant to today’s world, making it one of the year’s best surprises.
The teen years are, by far, some of the most dramatic years in anybody’s life. There’s a reason why they have been dramatized and focused on for so long in film, tv, books, and the like: it’s a scary time where you feel the most pressure to figure yourself out, even though you don’t exactly have to just yet. Brian Duffield’s Spontaneous adds an explosive layer to the fear and uncertainty of being a teenager, by posing a situation where seniors right on the cusp of graduating begin to inexplicably blow up.
Mara Carlyle (Katherine Langford) seems to have the life of a stereotypical teen: the need to be a bit rebellious at times, parents that love her even if they sometimes argue, a childhood best friend named Tess (Hayley Law), but all of her usual routines are thwarted once a fellow classmate explodes right in front of her eyes. This sets off a chain of events Mara would’ve never anticipated, including a secret admirer admitting feelings for her. She soon discovers that this admirer is Dylan (Charlie Plummer), who decided there was no time like the present to admit his longtime crush, as they both could quite literally combust are any moment.
Despite the panic and chaos that ensues around them, a relationship begins to blossom between Mara and Dylan. The concept itself may make you anticipate a movie that is completely dark, and, while it definitely doesn’t stray away from that, it also balances several other tones. The film is sharply written, its jokes never feel out of place and are mostly always funny, and its emotional moments pack a punch. It’s actually quite amazing how it can pull so much off, considering that’s never an easy feat for any film, especially one that has decided to experiment with such an outlandish concept like this.
Not only does Spontaneous manage its tones really well, but it also happens to be full of interesting characters, all with their own quirks, each matched with good performances and chemistry between the cast. The leads especially work well off of each other, though Langford is certainly the standout: this is quite possibly her best work to date, and certainly makes her a performer to be excited for in future projects.
Of course, one can’t talk about Spontaneous without highlighting just how relevant it is to the world today. It feels just like the perfect film for its intended young adult audience, as it somehow encapsulates the feeling of growing up in this current world, where fear and panic are constant. The teens in this film watch as everyone around them tries to adjust to the situation the best they can, but nothing seems to work. There are people all around them creating complete falsities to try and act like they know what’s going on, sometimes even for their own gain, which, in turn makes things all the more hectic: each time there’s a new “cure”, it seems as though there is hope after all, only for nothing to happen, and for more lives to be lost. This creates a sense of unease and tension for the viewer, as each death is just as unexpected for us as it is for the characters. We’re not sure who might go next, and if it might even be one of our main characters.
This is definitely one of the best teen romcoms to have come out in recent years, as it manages to have so much heart and personality, offering both funny and heartwarming moments. Spontaneous is a special film, and one that will mean a lot to the audience who is going to watch it and relate to it, and possibly hold onto it for a long time. One of the year’s best by far, and a film that should absolutely not be overlooked.
Spontaneous is now available to watch on Digital and on Demand.