Young Adult (2011) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Young Adult is one of the most fearsomely awkward films I’ve ever seen. Charlize Theron inhabits a character so unsympathetic and selfish, she alienates audiences early on. Yet, I could not take my eyes away from the train-wreck of a woman presented onscreen. It is a devastatingly good performance in a film that grows more powerful with each passing minute.

Oscar winning screenwriter Diablo Cody reunites with her Juno collaborator, Jason Reitman, to create a fully realized world full of off-beat characters. I do not count myself amongst Cody’s fans. Her writing style tends to distract me, in previous films it seemed to call attention to itself. Now with Young Adult, she has finally produced a screenplay worthy of the accolades.

Charlize Theron is Mavis Gray, a former homecoming queen in her small town of Mercury, Minnesota. Now, Mavis is a functioning alcoholic, eking out a living ghost writing a series of young adult novels. Until the day she receives an email from a high school boyfriend. The old flame is Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson), now happily married with an infant daughter. Mavis cannot seem to get over the fact that Buddy is domesticated, so she travels back to Mercury with the intention of seducing the family man.

This leads to a series of scenes that become increasingly uncomfortable to experience. We watch in horror, as Mavis continuously attempts to break up poor ol’ Buddy’s home life. These events are observed by Matt (Patton Oswalt), a cripple with a life-long obsession for Mavis and the voice of reason in the film. Director Reitman has shown enormous talent behind the camera, his short list of films already includes the Best Picture Oscar Nominees Juno and Up in the Air. Young Adult is his most mature and best work yet.

Director: Jason Reitman
Stars: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt

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