Next up is “Young Adult,” a dark, biting comedy that reunites the director and writer of “Juno,” Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody. Charlize Theron stars as Mavis Gary, a divorced, drunk, deluded writer of teen-lit novels. She’s living a miserable life in a Minneapolis high-rise, but decides one day to return to the hometown where she once ruled as prom queen – a place she now hates.
Mavis is back because she found out that her high-school sweetheart, Buddy, played by Patrick Wilson, just had a baby girl with his wife. Undaunted, she insists they’re still meant to be together, and is obsessed with trying to win him back.
But she ends up spending more time with a tubby, nerdy former classmate named Matt, played by an excellent Patton Oswalt. This is a guy she never would have dreamed of acknowledging in high school, but when she runs into him at a bar, he becomes her much-needed friend and sounding board.
“Young Adult” dares you to like it – and that’s what makes it so great. It has no tidy character arcs, no happy ending, and that willful rejection of traditional storytelling conventions is thrilling. Theron hurls herself headlong into a selfish character who makes no apologies for her deplorable behavior. I actually wanted this to go on longer – to see it fleshed out a little more. That’s my only complaint here – thumbs up from me.
IGNATIY: Thumbs up from me as well. I think I had a little bit more of a problem with the ending than you did, though.
IGNATIY: I feel it’s too abrupt, especially in comparison to the rest of the movie, which is really good at gradually kind of gaining momentum. It is…it is a slow-motion trainwreck essentially.
CHRISTY: And yet, I love that she learns nothing like I don’t think I’m giving anything away here, there’s no great epiphany. She’s as damaged at the end as she is in the beginning. She’s a serious alcoholic, which they play very seriously. They don’t play it for laughs. I mean she’s a mess every single morning, and that hugely influences how stuck she is, how miserable she is, and she’s, I mean, compared to Juno she’s the anti-Juno in a lot of ways.
IGNATIY: Well, yeah, this is a very different script I think from Diablo Cody in comparison to Juno, which I think is kind of best known for it’s very slangy, quippy pop-culture dialogue. What I found, for instance, really interesting is that the first few minutes of the film have no dialogue at all. It’s really just…
CHRISTY: And yet it says everything about her life.
IGNATIY: Yeah, it says…it’s every detail you really need to know, and it is just showing how she goes through an afternoon, you know, as she gets up, what she gets from the fridge, how she goes to her computer. I mean the film is so honed in on this character.
CHRISTY: Right. It’s about peaking. It’s about when we peak, and what we’re at our best at and, um, it’s very honest about that.