Year of Spectacular Men review Madelyn Deutch Zoey Deutch Lea ThompsonYear: 2018
Director(s): Lea Thompson
Writer(s): Madelyn Deutch
Region of Origin: USA

Rating: n/a

Synopsis: A young woman struggles to navigate the failures of post-college adulthood, leaning on her mother and older sister for support. (Source)

The Year of Spectacular Men isn’t just good, riotously great. We’ve seen variations of this story countless times before, and most of us have lived it, but what director Lea Thompson and daughters Madelyn Deutch and Lea Thompson have pulled off is long overdue. Here, quirky twentysomething anxiety gets a much needed woman’s perspective, giving the genre a new lease on life, and an empowering slant that’s infectiously vibrant. From the sisterly bond that anchors it, to the undeniable warmth that lines each scene, this thing is pulsing with an energy that we can’t help but get lost in. It’s also the arrival of a powerful voice in star, writer and composer Madelyn Deutch, who pulls triple duty and excels in a wonderfully sincere story about life, love and most importantly, family.

Izzy (Madelyn Deutch) is kind of a mess. After barely graduating from college in NYC, she discovers that she still doesn’t know what to do with her life. Unable to recover from the death of her father years before, and sent into a tailspin after a vicious breakup, Izzy decides to move to Los Angeles with her young sister Sabrina (Zoey Deutch), who also happens to be a rising movie star. While dodging her sister’s paparazzi, constantly binging old episodes of The X-Files and bombing auditions for acting gigs, Izzy rifles through an endless parade of men, adding insult to injury with a succession of failed relationships. As it turns out, however, none of her misfortune is for naught, learning with Sabrina and their mother, Deb (Lea Thompson), that every failure is the door to a new beginning.

Drawing from a genre in which women are mostly props for misguided manbabies, this film gives power and agency back to its women, who are allowed to be spectacularly flawed and complex and real. This sets the sets Izzy and Sabrina’s relationship as the story’s focal point, creating a lively constant of two disparate sisters who meet in the middle in cathartic ways. In turn, Izzy’s year breezes by as Thompson and crew keep things light without betraying the seriousness that ties every punchline together. This makes the film as funny as it is honest, using sharp wit and endlessly quotable dialogue to explore its women and the trauma that lies within. That Thompson and Deutch’s script manages to balance self-effacing idiosyncrasies with some pretty hefty emotion is no small feat, giving the film a resonance that’s fully earned.

Year of Spectacular Men Madelyn Deutch Zoey DeutchIt goes without saying that the film only hits as hard as it does because of its cast. Leading everything, Madelyn Deutch is a surefire winner, bringing Izzy to life with a feverish aplomb. What’s really astonishing is the way that Izzy grows, learns and transforms from start to finish, with Maddie employing a very nuanced performance that’s intricately layered and well-balanced – not to mention full of pitch-perfect, straight-faced comedic timing. She really embodies the fun and seriousness of it all. As her IRL sister playing her on-screen sister, Zoey Deutch is a great mirror, offering up a slightly more frenzied version of Izzy, and by design, one that’s better at suppressing how she really feels. The contrast and unbeatable chemistry between both women is the entire lifeblood of the film. They bounce off each other and create an inextricable bond of sisterly love and compassion. Lea Thompson’s Deb and Melissa Bolona’s Amythyst round things out by solidifying the family bond, while the men, Avan Jogia, Jesse Bradford, Brandon T. Jackson, Cameron Monaghan, Zach Roerig and Nicholas Braun lend the film a lot of its unpredictability.

Boasting a combustible view of quarterlife crisis, deep cut X-Files references and a family trio whose real life connection translates to on-screen charm, The Year of Spectacular Men is brimming with charm and grace. This is one family affair that you can’t afford to miss, and a tribute to the imperfections that make us who we are. The film’s a powerful reminder that the our end goals are oft times not as exciting or important as how we get there. In a world full of uncertainty and disappointment, the film is also an affecting tribute to the people that never leave our side and the strength within each of us that only we can harness.

SG