Charlize Theron stars as Mavis Gray, a Young Adult books writer, who is currently trying to write the final part of a rather unsuccessful series. She is lazy, careless, miserable and goes through a boring routine everyday, until she finds out that Buddy Slade, her first love, just had a baby. Immediately, she gets the idea that he is unhappy with his marriage and child and goes back home to save him. Although it is obvious to everyone around her that the man is fine and content with his life, Mavis does not see it and desperately tries to show him that they belong together. Along the way, she meets and forms a somehow interesting friendship with Matt, who was known back in the day as the "hate crime guy" (he was beaten because everyone thought he was gay). He tries to help her, to stir her in the right direction, but she just wouldn't listen. The end point is not good, as imagined, but the journey to it is revealing and bittersweet.
Charlize Theron is a force of nature in Young Adult. She perfectly portrays the obsessed woman who is, after all, just a sad girl who hasn't grown emotionally since she left high school- at heart, she is the cheerleader/prom queen bitch. She still feels and acts like a teenager, despite her age and experiences, and although she is smart, her passion for Buddy stands between her and reality- Mavis cannot comprehend the idea that he might not want her. She is delusional and she only realizes the truth when Beth (his wife) openly tells her that they feel sorry for her and consider her to be mental ill or with a depression. That moment was probably one of the saddest, heartbroken scenes I have seen lately- not because of the way it was shot or because of the atmosphere or the dialogue-no. In that moment, when she finally understands, it hits her so hard, that you can't help to feel sorry for her; it makes you scream to the screen "I told you, it was so obvious Mavis, why didn't you see this coming?".
My favorite scenes comes after the tragic show at the Blades house, when she goes to see Matt- miserable, heartbroken and feeling undesired, she says "I'm crazy and no one wants me", seeking consolation in the arms of an equally sad man who tries to comfort her the best way he can. The naked awkwardness is so real and touching, that you understand and relate to her, in some way, and you feel her pain- that is something that any scriptwriter and actor aim to do, and Cody and Theron manage to transmit so much just through that one scene.
If that is not enough, another great one follows, as Mavis wakes up the next day and goes into the kitchen for coffee, where she meets Sandra, the man's sister. Her short conversation with the woman tells us so much about her personality and her motivation ("He knew me when I was at my best"), but also helps her realize some things about her life. She doesn't want to settle for less, to live a normal, boring life in Mercury, where people are fulfilled with so little.
Seeing her pack her bags and leave the hotel makes you think "I'm glad she finally understood it, but is it too late? Has she missed too much?". I, for one, would have loved to see more in the end, maybe a glimpse into her future, where would she be now, but I guess I can see why Diablo Cody decided to stop there.
I loved this movie so much because it is a character development story- it doesn't have too much action and maybe some of the characters are one dimensional, but it feels real. Mavis Gray is brought to life by Charlize Theron in such an honest, despicable, sad, yet pitiful way, that you can't not acknowledge her acting craft and conviction- she is truly a wonderful actress. You should really see "Young Adult"!