Young Adult has Oscar pedigree written all over it. Directed By Jason Reitman (nominated for Up In The Air and Juno) in collaboration with everyone’s favourite hip writer, Diablo Cody (of Juno fame), and with the beautiful and talented Charlize Theron (Oscar winner for Monster) starring.
On paper it would appear that Mavis Gary (Theron) is a successful, beautiful 37-year-old writer living life to the full in Minneapolis, who’s enjoying all the trappings that life should bring a former prom queen. However, it is obvious from the opening scenes that her life is in a mess. She wakes up from a drunken stupor, having fallen asleep on her bed fully-clothed. She shuffles round her dishevelled apartment, drinks Coke for breakfast, prepares breakfast for her and her dog Dolce from ready made packet food, whilst watching The Kardashians on TV.
After receiving a generic email from her High School boyfriend to announce the birth of his first child, and having had yet another unfulfilling date/sexual encounter, she throws everything in her bag (including Dolce) and follows the madcap idea of heading back to her hometown, in the hope of rekindling her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, despite the fact that he is married and now has his first child.
As part of the disposable wanting-everything-now generation, she feels it is her right to be with him. The rest of the film follows her desperate attempts at trying to steal her ex back, while deluding herself that he must be unhappy. She also befriends an unlikely companion, Matt Freehauf (played brilliantly by Patton Oswalt), who was crippled by the school jocks as they thought he was gay.
There are nods to many of today’s well known celebrities/characters, with today’s MTV generation brought up on a diet of Idol, The Kardashians, Twilight and Carrie Bradshaw. It is their life that Mavis believes should be her destiny, without actually investing time and effort into any sort of meaningful relationships.
Theron is excellent in the role of Mavis. A sort of anti hero, she excels at playing this tortured, alcoholic, witty, erratic empty character. Theron is fantastic in every scene, one of the best being the awkward baby naming party, where all her insecurities come to the surface.
The moral of the story is clear. You can’t help but feel sorry for Mavis Gary, but are perhaps hopeful that she can change her ways – or not as the case may be.
Overall Verdict: A brilliant portrayal by Charlize Theron, in the lead role, and by far her most convincing role since she picked up the Oscar for Monster. As for Diablo Cody, it’s not as good as Juno but better than Jennifer’s Body.
Reviewer: Stephen Sclater