Young Adult * * *
Director: Jason Reitman.
Screenplay: Diablo Cody.
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser, Mary Beth Hurt, Collette Wolfe, Jill Eikenberry, Richard Bekins, Emily Meade, Brady Smith, Louisa Krause, Jenny Dare Paulin, John Forest, J.K. Simmons.
Following the success of their previous collaboration “Juno“, director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody reunite to bring us another slice of small-town American life. Whether or not is as good as their last outing, depends on your expectations.
Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is a pathological, self-absorbed bitch. She’s already divorced, and dependent on alcohol as she tries to maintain her job as a ghost-writer for a failing series of adolescent books. Having received an e-mail, one day, of news of her ex-boyfriend Buddy (Patrick Wilson) becoming a new father, she heads for her home town determined to reclaim him back from his wife Beth (Elizabeth Reaser) and newborn baby. Mavis will stop at nothing but ultimately, it’s herself that she’s harming most.
Since her Oscar winning role in “Monster” in 2003, Charlize Theron has had a couple of notable roles but nothing she could really sink her teeth into. This, however, is the best role she’s had since then. It’s a character she grabs with the scruff of the neck and delivers an excellent and potent performance. Other than her though, I didn’t find much else to write home about. Maybe this was because my expectations were too high.? I really enjoyed “Juno” for it’s likeable characters and quirky sense of humour and I expected much of the same here but there’s very little humour involved. It’s actually more of a down-beat character study, dealing with failed aspirations, depression and a path of self destruction. It doesn’t make for happy viewing and also doesn’t shed much of a positive light on the choices the characters have made in life. To achieve happiness in life is a matter of relevance. At least, that’s what I think the message was supposed to be but it could have at least had a character that embodied this. Sure, Buddy and Beth seem like a happy couple on the surface but there’s a bit of ambiguity involved. Patton Oswalt delivers some light comic relief as Mavis’ new friend and drinking buddy Matt but despite some lighthearted moments from him, he’s also quite a tragic character. What chance have you got, when your comic-relief is even struggling in life? As I mentioned, maybe if I was prepared for the down-beat approach beforehand, I’d have settled more into this. It’s not a bad film, by any means, but it is a bit sluggish and disheartening.
I’ve heard this described as a ‘tragi-comedy’. It’s a good description but I think the emphasis is on the former rather than the latter.Theron is on excellent form and the real highlight here but the material is a little tough to swallow. It has moments of brilliance but too few to fully satisfy.