By Sandra Kraisirideja
“Young Adult” is for anyone who secretly wishes that beautiful, successful, intelligent people really have tragically pathetic lives.
In the the second collaboration between writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman, who first worked together on the Oscar-winning “Juno,” “Young Adult” is a hopeful story but not in the way that results in the main characters redeeming themselves or growing as human beings.
Charlize Theron plays the film’s protagonist, Mavis Gary, a ghost writer for a fading young adult series who falls into a deep depression following her divorce and who decides the only way to get her life back on track is to win back her high school sweetheart, played by Patrick Wilson, who is now married and celebrating the birth of his daughter.
Mavis is considered a big shot in her small hometown since she escaped to Minneapolis, or the “Mini Apple” as locals call it, and is a published author. In reality she lives a drab, lonely existence that is devoid of meaning but she is so self-absorbed that she is unable to see what’s really going on in her life.
Theron’s brilliance in her performance is the way she is able to portray Mavis without any sympathy but yet creates a very sympathetic character. There’s never a time when Mavis tries to be liked or wants to be better but the audience can’t help but feel sorry for her. The film’s supporting actors including Patton Oswalt, Wilson, and Elizabeth Reaser are also well cast.
Reitman’s direction is assured as usual. He seems most comfortable with material that is dark but not depressing. There is an overall vibe that can only be described as tragically funny that runs throughout his movies. Cody’s script lacks the verbal repartee that made “Juno” sparkle but that type of dialogue really wouldn’t fit “Young Adult’s” storyline. Cody has once again created a memorable female protagonist who follows her own path and is able to come out ahead.
“Young Adult” opens everywhere on Dec. 16.