Young Adult (2011)

Young Adult (2011)


Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron, Monster), a successful writer of “young adults” novels, is an overly impulsive woman. Mavis wakes up one morning and decides to travel to her hometown in Minnesota. She is a woman on a mission: the neurotic author is determined to win back her high school sweetheart (Patrick Wilson, Little Children).

Reaction & Thoughts:

“Sometimes in order to heal… a few people have to get hurt.”

Young Adult marked director Jason Reitman’s (Up in the Air) second collaboration with writer Cody Diablo — they had previously worked on the popular coming-of-age drama, Juno (2007). I’m not a fan of either person so I was taken aback by how much I liked Young Adult — it’s an interesting exploration of one of today’s most serious problems: lack of emotional maturity in adults.

The film’s anti-heroine is unlikable but she is like many adults I know — Mavis is a grown woman with the mind of an adolescent. Unsatisfied with her present life, she mistakenly thinks that her happiness lies in reliving the past.

You have, however, to admire a movie that uses such an unlikable character to analyze today’s moral values. Mavis says pretty much whatever comes to her mind and there is something endearing about a person who is brutally honest. We understand she is a total wreck, and much of her problems are entirely of her own making, but we somehow sympathize with her inability to make sound decisions about her life.

Cody’s script feels at times like a first draft, though. It’s a bit meandering and unfocused. It’s also a bit too narrow-minded. Although the script is far from perfect, Charlize Theron is simply sensational — it’s probably her best performance to date. Theron does a fantastic job winning sympathy from the audience, not an easy task by any means.

The supporting cast is very good too. Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille) is great as Theron’s old high school friend and drinking partner. The cast also includes Collette Wolfe (Interstellar), Elizabeth Reaser (Twilight) and Richard Bekins (United 93). Mary Beth Hurt (Interiors and The World According to Garp) has a small role.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Young Adult is a surprisingly funny, perceptive and, unlike director Reitman’s previous films, strangely optimistic. It’s a perceptive cautionary tale with an edge. Theron is unforgettable; an intelligent performance from an actor who seems to be getting better with each new movie. Color, 94 minutes, Rated R.

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