Young Adult

Charlize Theron is on her worst behaviour in this new film from the ‘Juno’ team

Young Adult

(C) 2011 Paramount Pictures and Mercury Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Directors: Jason Reitman
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt
Time Out rating:

Here’s a new comedy from Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, the writer/director duo behind Juno. But don’t go expecting another happy, warm hug of a movie: this is much less of a charmer, trailing a juicy waft of sourness behind it. Charlize Theron gives her best performance in years; she’s properly funny (who knew?) as Mavis Gary, a train-wreck who crashes into her hometown to reclaim her high-school sweetheart, Buddy (Patrick Wilson). What, Buddy’s happily married? Devoted to his new baby? Like Mavis gives a damn. She’s angry, self-obsessed, immature, stalkerish, possibly alcoholic… and we’re kinda gunning for her.

The film’s writer, Cody is one seriously funny woman – and one of Hollywood’s most in-demand scribes. With Mavis, it’s like she’s given life to a less-successful, less-together evil alter ego, a terrifying what-if. Mavis, 37 and divorced, is also a writer – of young adult fiction (industry-speak for teen novels). And she displays all the emotional maturity of one of her characters. I can’t remember a heroine so triumphantly and spectacularly messy. Back in Mercury, Minnesota, an old classmate, clearly traumatised from their high-school days together, spies her across a bar and hisses (almost without realising): ‘psychotic prom queen bitch’.

Mavis isn’t stupid – she can see that Buddy loves his wife, but downing another shot of whisky blanks it out. Cody draws her characters with absolute precision. Is Mavis slinking back to have a breakdown? There’s an empty loneliness threatening to swallow her up, and that keeps on side even when she’s at her meanest. Here’s Mavis on Mercury: ‘People here are so happy with so little. It’s like they don’t even care what happens to them.’ There is a raw honesty here rare in movies, and it’s very funny too – excruciating at times.

Young Adult opens nationwide on February 25

By Cath Clarke
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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