Monday 26 December 2022

Movie Review: Young Adult (2011)

Genre: Psychological Dramedy
Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson
Running Time: 94 minutes

Synopsis: In Minneapolis, Mavis (Charlize Theron) is a depressed and single thirtysomething writer of young adult books. After learning her ex-boyfriend from high school days Buddy (Patrick Wilson) has just welcomed a baby, she travels to her childhood town of Mercury determined to win back his love. She reconnects with Matt (Patton Oswalt), who was the victim of a savage beating during their high school days. Mavis shamelessly flirts with Buddy trying to pry him away from his wife Beth (Elizabeth Reaser), but her desperation is close to the surface.

What Works Well: Writer Diablo Cody crafts a likeable drama around a distinctly unlikeable central character, and director Jason Reitman allows Charlize Theron to walk the seam between cynical false confidence and pathetic sorrow. Having peaked in high school and now wallowing in unhappy selfishness as life passes by, her march to meltdown is compelling, while big city fish in quaint pond dynamics add texture. In a supporting turn, Patton Oswalt contributes soulful warmth as the physically and emotionally damaged assault survivor.

What Does Not Work As Well: Mavis' tangential narration - echoing her psychological attitude through the latest YA novel she is writing - is caught between obvious and half-baked. Her win-the-ex-boyfriend-back actions are contrived, and Buddy falls for a few of them all too easily. The non-ending is lukewarm at best.

Conclusion: A difficult topic receives breezy, if ultimately inconsequential, treatment.

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