Title: Young Adult
Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson
Release Date: Out now
Charlize Theron (Monster) gives an extremely convincing performance as thirty-seven-year-old ghost writer of a series of young adult fiction novels, Mavis Gary, who clings to delusional teenage fantasies and obsesses over her younger years, in particular her old flame Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson). After she learns that Buddy has recently become a father for the first time, Mavis returns to her hometown of Mercury, Minnesota with the intention of rekindling the flame between her and her former beau, under the pretext that she is overseeing a real estate deal.
Theron gives a smart, snappy performance, which is complimented by her excellent comedic timing. Mavis is described by her peers as a “psychotic prom queen bitch” and Theron illustrates this effortlessly. Mavis is selfish, spoiled and very much remains trapped in the mind set of a high school narcissistic beauty queen. Her fluffy dog, reality TV and constant boozing appear to be the only stable and consistent parts in her daily life. Mavis sees no fault in her behaviour and, despite Buddy having a wife and newborn child, has no qualms in bringing down everyone around her in her attempt to win him over.
Mavis’ inability to grow up, let go of the past and accept the harsh realities of life is echoed in the film’s soundtrack, which has a distinctly nineties vibe. Dinosaur Jr, Pearl Jam and The Lemonheads are among the bands that are featured, while ‘The Concept’ by nineties rockers Teenage Fanclub becomes something of an anthem, and is used by Mavis to revisit her younger years and also to remind Buddy of the passion they once shared.
Young Adult is undeniably a Diablo Cody film. It possesses the same charm and clever wit as Juno, her previous collaboration with director Jason Reitman. Unlike the romantic comedies that have become the norm for cinema-goers, Young Adult is almost uncomfortably true to life, portraying even the most unsavoury and humiliating aspects of Mavis’ endeavours. In essence, the film is quite cynical, with the protagonist being anything but likeable, yet Cody’s witty dialogue and clever characterisation ensure things don’t get too heavy for the viewer, and the next laugh is never too far away.
Although she may not be the most likeable leading lady to grace our screens, Mavis Gary does gain our sympathy and however cringe-worthy her train-wreck attempt is, it is certainly enjoyable to watch.
In a Nutshell: An impressive comedic performance from Charlize Theron in a smart and witty film from the accomplished Diablo Cody.