The Year Of Spectacular Men is a timely, captivating reminder of the power of the romantic-comedy.
While most major movie studios now ignore the genre in favor of big, explosive blockbuster franchises and their sequels, “The Year Of Spectacular Men” proves that, when done right, no other kind of film can provoke a smile as quickly and affectingly.
But it’s not just its depiction of the charmingly quirky and innately effervescent Izzy (Madelyn Deutch) and her various romances over the course of 12 months in several U.S. cities that makes “The Year Of Spectacular Men” shine. Instead it is the family dynamic between Deutch and her co-star/sister Zoey Deutch, as well as the supporting role/direction of their mother Lea Thompson that really adds a weight and extra layer of interest to the film.
When I sat down with Madelyn Deutch to talk about the romantic-comedy, though, she explained that her original intention was simply “to make a story that no-one else would make.”
“I wanted to make content for a demographic that people do not make TV and movies for.”
Thompson was immediately keen to get involved, too especially as she saw the potential to make a relevant, social point. “It needed to be done. There hasn’t been a movie that has been written about sisters, written by sisters, acted by sisters, sisterhood is really important right now.”
But Thompson also recalled how the origins of “The Year Of Spectacular Men” came from a much darker place, too. “Madelyn was having a really bad year after just coming back from college. She’s always been a really great writer, from first grade to second grade and so on. And she had always wrote songs, really great lyrics.”
“What is interesting about a writer is that it is very exposing, and you really have to expose yourself. Not everyone has the disposition for it. But she just had that courage. I just knew she had this gift. Not only this gift, but writers just have to get this stuff out.”
“I think I hope I inspired to write it. I wanted her to write to get out of the funk that she was in and work out the problems that she had had. Most people don’t actually do it. They talk about it, but don’t actually do it. I was so impressed when she did it.”
Deutch, who started work on the script at the end of 2013, added, “Storytelling just felt like the natural way to deal with stuff.” So much so that once the script was complete Lea and Zoey instantly became inspired, and were willing to go to any lengths to make “The Year Of Spectacular Men” a cinematic reality
“Then we were like, ‘Let’s do this.’ Kind of like the old-fashioned movies where we were like, ‘I’ll do the costumes, you do this’,” recalled Thompson. “We were just inspired to do something on our own. We have always been a working family. We cook together, sew together, so it felt naturally to work together in this capacity.”
Unfortunately, it took another 2 years to get the money for the film, though, as pre Time’s Up Hollywood kept throwing up various obstacles for it. “It was a really complicated movie to get money for for a number of reasons,” insisted Deutch.
“Number 1, it was pre Me Too and Time’s Up and people were not pretending that female content was important to them. Secondly, I wanted to star in it. Nobody knows who I am. I create content. I am not necessarily a recognizable face. Then everyone said that female led comedies were risky investments.”
Even once they got the budget, because “The Year Of Spectacular Men” was distinctly set in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Lake Tahoe, as well as unmistakably unfolding over the course of a whole year, its production was far from simple.
“We shot 19 days of principal photography in Los Angeles with the biggest crew we were going to have the whole time. So that was the real crew, the real thing,” explained Deutch.
“Then we shut down for 3 months, waiting for winter, and our crew got cut in half. Shot for 3 days in Tahoe, and 2 days in San Francisco. Then we shut down for another 3 months, and she cut the movie. Then we came to New York for 4 days, shooting totally guerrilla style, 6 people, a cart, just a camera and lenses, hardly any sound.”
But, while not without its issues, this approach ultimately helped to make “The Year Of Spectacular Men” even more idiosyncratic and distinctive.
“One of the really fun things about shooting independent movies is that it is like a treasure hunt,” Thompson insisted. “Because you are like, ‘We can make this and make it feel really big.’ For better or worse we meant the quirks of it, and we made the movie we set out to make.”
You can see exactly what that is at the end of the week, as “The Year Of Spectacular Men” is in theaters in New York on June 15, which is also when it is being released on VOD.