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"!
So glad you liked it!ReplyDelete
I think Theron's performance is one of the bravest that I've seen. To be so "normally" awful... like not as a villain or anything, but just to be a sorta bad human with confused feelings and to really let the people see the ugly in you- phew! Mindblown.
Love Cody and Reitman.
Have not managed to catch this one last year, but I'm definitely keeping it on my soon-to-be-watched list. Mostly only heard good things about it, and yours seem no different.ReplyDelete
@Nikhat: I liked what you said about letting people see the ugly in you, you're right!ReplyDelete
@Andrei S: Hello there new commentator :) Yes, I do recommend it, it's a good movie!
Nice Review I like Charlize Theron's performance, but I did not like this character at all In no way for me was she ever compassionate to anyone but herself, and there was never a moment where she has a change in her additude either. She left that small town still feeling like she is better than everyone else I will watch this again and might have a different opinion but I was left coldReplyDelete
@TheVern: Hey there, nice to have you around! I agree with what you're saying about the nature of her character, but I think that's how it was made to be and you have to agree there are people like that in the world. We don't like them, but they are a reality.ReplyDelete
I really liked this film and I was pissed that Charlize Theron didn't get an Oscar nod. It's a performance for the ages as I liked the way at how Theron made a truly unlikeable and immature character that was engage but you also felt pity for her. That scene where she's with her parents and tried to tell them she's an alcoholic and they just dismissed it. That was sad and I was also upset at how her father took the side of her ex-husband. I got pissed at her dad for that.ReplyDelete
I basically agree with Steve in that I think this performance was truly amazing and definitely deserved some sort of nomination. This chick is so mean and unlikable, that it seems very hard for someone to make her even remotely sympathetic, but somehow Theron pulls that off perfectly. Great flick and one of my favorites of 2011. Nice review Diana.ReplyDelete
Wonderful review! I'm really glad you liked the movie and you had such a grasp on Mavis, many people who saw the movie really judged her too harshly.ReplyDelete
Great review!!! I've been wanting to see this one for ages, it's definitely moving up the list of priorities now!! :DReplyDelete
A great review. and so different than a few others I have read. I've read others that state there is NO character development at all in this film. Charlize's character is the same when we meet her at the beginning as she is at the end. i am intrigued to watch this film that I skipped out on solely because you gave it a different spin in your review. Thanks for the other perspective. It's nice to see that for a Charlize Theron movie.ReplyDelete
@Steven: Yeah, that scene was harsh, but the most emotional one for me, the one in which she really showed what was inside her, was the one where she goes to Matt after the naming ceremony! I agree, she deserved an Oscar nomination, but there were a lot of great performances last year...ReplyDelete
@Sati: She is not easy to love, but there is something about that character that I like, I don't know what...
@Ruth: :) nice to hear it, hope you like it, too!
@T: Well, although I said it was a character development movie, I do agree in some points that she didn't actually change that much overall. But, it is a movie that focuses on a woman's personality and inner struggles, and I classify that as a character development film, too!
I refrain from reading this as I haven't watched it yet, but I'm still curious about it as Cody is from my hometown and I like Charlize :)ReplyDelete
I had a different take on her character at the end. I felt she had finally started to realize maybe she should change, but then the conversation with the sister put an end to all of that and she went back to being the same person she was the entire film.ReplyDelete
@Ruth m: Both did a great job, you should see it!ReplyDelete
@Chip: Hm...you may be right, but it wasn't that clearly explained, so it can go either way!
Jason Reitman is an exciting director. Glad this one is living up to expectation. I must check it out soon.ReplyDelete
She’s a force of nature indeed! Absolutely loved Theron in this, I think it ranks right up with Monster as her best performance.ReplyDelete
You're right, Young Adult is all character development, which is one reason why I love it so.
@Dan: Hmm, I must check more Reitman movies :) thanksReplyDelete
@Alex: Yeah, it's one of her best roles, she really stood out! Too bad there were too many great female performances last year, she should have gotten a nomination for every award!
I think 'Young Adult' would be another fantastic film in the very good movies, but don't need to see again. The performances from both Charlize and Patton were great. It kills me that she might finally realize the err of her ways only to be turned around in the end.ReplyDelete
(fantastic update to your comment system btw)
@Max: Glad you like the commenting system, I don't know why I didn't realize it had something wrong until now!ReplyDelete