Sunday, January 8, 2012

3 Thoughts on 'Young Adult'

1. For a film written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman it is rather dull - I am a huge fan of this collaboration (Juno), but especially of Jason Reitman. His film Thank You for Smoking is one of my favorite comedies - it is sarcastic, perfectly cynical and intelligent. Anyone who expects these things from this film will be disappointed. The plot has a lot of potential but ended up really flat. It tells the story of Mavis, an "author" of a young adult book series - in theory she is successful but the opening sequence of the film rejects this theory by presenting her as a bit of mess (hungover, apartment a mess, adorable dog that she doesn't take care of). Mavis decides that in order to get her life in order, she needs to return to her hometown and get her ex-boyfriend back. She believes her high school days were her "glory days" and expects that the people in her hometown will fawn over her, her ex will immediately leave his wife and newborn baby, and in turn boost her confidence and reaffirm that her life is in fact a success. To her surprise, none of this happens. This has potential for a great character study, but no one is really explored except Mavis. The story is a bit cynical, but never really that thought provoking, the sarcasm was expected and therefore never really that funny but my biggest issue of the film was the pace - it was never ending.

2. Nothing changes - I enjoy films where things are left unresolved, but this ending felt really empty. Sure, I would have hated for her to learn some big, important life lesson and become a better person. However, a film that sets out to be a "character study" type film should have characters that change in some way - otherwise the entire film becomes pointless. We never fully understand Mavis's intentions - why the sudden interest in her past? Did she ever get treated for Trichotillomania (obsessive hair pulling)? We see a bit of interaction between her and her parents - who refer to her condition as a continued problem from her youth (which would sort of disproves that her high school years were in fact her "glory days"). All of the characters that live in her hometown are bland and we don't really get any sense of their happiness (or unhappiness). Mavis thinks that her ex is trapped and feels like a "zombie" but we never get a definitive answer as to whether this is true or not. Also, Mavis forms an unlikely bond with a former classmate (who is a self-described "fat geek") but this bond is abandoned in the end which, again, makes the whole relationship pointless.

3. Charlize Theron is fantastic - In the beginning, she makes Mavis a completely relateable character - although she reminded me of me about 10 years ago (at 20), the fact that she is playing a 37 year old is what makes the film a bit depressing. I think it is widely agreed that Charlize Theron is one of the most beautiful women in the world, so the fact that she can convincingly play someone with believable insecurities is outstanding to watch. Even when the character increasingly becomes unrelateable (as in a delusional sociopath), Charlize shines. Her disgust in others is so blatantly internalized and can be felt with just the slightest touch of sadness in her eyes.

1 comment:

  1. Theron gives a terrific performance. She elevates the movie by demonstrating her versatility. She almost makes you feel sympathetic towards this blonde, beautiful and sharp-witted anti-heroine. Oswalt deserves consideration for supporting actor as well. Great review.