Film Review: Young Adult
Mavis Gary is an author of young adult literature living in Minneapolis. Following her recent divorce, Mavis decides to return to her small hometown in Minnesota to try to rekindle the flame with her high school boyfriend. He is, however, married with a newborn baby…
It is the erudite combination of skilful directing, magnificent writing and an astonishing central performance that makes Young Adult such a fantastic movie. Not only is Mavis such a well written character, but she is depicted with the upmost authenticity. Despite some rather unsavoury traits, Mavis still resonates with audiences because she is so believable. Thus, viewers will side with her precisely because she is a flawed character.
Young Adult is an acutely affecting film, thanks to this brilliant depiction. Even those who find it difficult to relate to Mavis’ actions should find the film resonant. This is due to the fact that the themes are depicted so convincingly. The return to a glorious past, an isolated life, depression and an uncertain future are all ideas that should resound with viewers both younger and older than the protagonist.
Diablo Cody’s screenplay is fantastic, and definitely her best work to date. The dialogue is great, expeically the conversations between Mavis and Matt. These scenes combine humour with refreshing honesty. Young Adult’s pacing is also good. The film never feels rushed or dragged out.
Jason Reitman’s directing is both stylish and subtle. Reitman seems to have his own style, one that is not glaringly obvious, but one that differentiates him from other contemporary directors of comedy drama. After the critical and commercial success of his previous efforts, it is a real shame that Young Adult has not received the recognition it deserves during the award season.
Charlize Theron is superb as Mavis Gary. It is a testament to Theron’s versatility that she is able to play the character so authentically. Patton Oswalt provides excellent support as Matt, while Patrick Wilson is well cast as Buddy.
Young Adult may not please those looking for a stereotypical Hollywood comedy drama. Everyone else should find it captivating. Young Adult is a fine piece of filmmaking.