Posted on 3/13/12 09:56 PM
'Young Adult' explores the life of Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), a former high school "it girl" who now resides away from her past in a city where she's attempting to convince herself that her life is in anything but crisis mode. Through a routine of binge-drinking, reality TV, and casual sex, Mavis becomes interrupted by a reminder of a life that once was, starting a personal journey to reclaim what she finds is rightfully hers.
Penned by talented writer Diablo Cody, 'Young Adult' finds itself as a dissection of a character that's unable to grow-up. Through a series of young adult novels, Mavis' ghostwriting finds inspiration by eavesdropping on the current teenage youth--an obvious and depressing attempt to hold onto her own youth. When returning to her hometown, Mavis begins to subconsciously act as one of her own characters, attempting to rekindle a highly unavailable flame (Patrick Wilson). Serving as her conscious is Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt), a disabled, witty geek who graduated high school the same year as Mavis.
In all honesty, I truly enjoyed Diablo Cody's exploration of Mavis. Filled with inspiration perhaps found from her own life (Mavis is a writer, after all), I found that the script tapped into something deeper than most films seem to manage. It expressed an amount of realism that I really respected, retaining a sense of humanity & humor that became all the more potent when times become dark.
Director Jason Reitman's simple, somewhat modern independent-film direction pairs with the material perfectly, becoming something smooth and natural. While watching, I found myself reminded of not only Reitman/Cody's 'Juno,' but also Alexander Payne's directorial style. As stated before, this simple style allows Cody's script to easily ride along, becoming a vehicle with beautiful pacing and just the right amount of subtle nuances.
Joining the terrific writing & superb directing are equally enticing performances, focused through Theron, Oswalt, and Wilson's characters. Theron definitely finds herself the stand-out, supplying an engaging, humorous performance, but also able to expertly handle scenes with intense emotion. Oswalt brings a level of honest charm & emotional guilt that allows the audience to feel for his character, and Wilson's subtle but near-perfect performance is never squashed by the other stars.
All-in-all, it's easy to claim that I really enjoyed this movie. The script is clever & intelligent, mixing the right amount of emotion and humor while remaining honest. The direction is subtle but nuanced, providing the right style to pair to the script. And the cast's performances consistently impress throughout, never creating a break in their character's persona. 'Young Adult' is a truly great dark comedy, one that explores an interesting character to great ends, while ending with a satisfying truth that finds itself humbly appreciated.
Thanks for reading.