Young Adult: A Fictional Love Story
Young Adult features Charlize Theron, a woman who is just that: a young adult. She embarrasses herself at every turn, at least in the audience’s eyes, while she hopelessly searches to reconnect with her high school ex. She endlessly strives to find happiness away from her teenage-drama writing career, a sedentary, Kardashian-watching, and overall unhealthy lifestyle.
It’s almost hard to watch as she idealizes the past in a feeble attempt at fixing her present situation. Her ex, Buddy (Patrick Wilson), sends a baby announcement that prompts Mavis to drive back to Mercury, Minnesota, still hopeful that their relationship can mend itself after her recent divorce despite his new family.
Her once popular Waverly Place series mirrors her own experience, as many scenes include voiceovers from Kendall’s drama-filled life. The “together” life she leads is a façade she puts up mainly for herself, but some elements of the front also figure into her interactions with other characters.
Matt (Patton Oswalt) is a fellow alum whose high school days were far less fortunate than Mavis’s , and his character helps the audience realize the full potential of Mavis’s selfishness and lack of concern for those around her. When the viewers are introduced to her parents, we come to understand how her she is unable to accept reality. It isn’t until the last few minutes of the film that she finds some clarity. Even this “solution” that she finds is discovered through twisted plot details that come across as confusing and disturbing.
Her alcoholism appears in the film often, escalating in her outbursts from failed expectations. The town residents, including Matt’s sister who obsessed over Mavis in high school, still put her on a pedestal. Their ignorance regarding her current situation only exacerbates her obsessive need to seem perfect. She perceives everything, including the climactic moment, as Buddy subtly “pursuing” her.
This Paramount Pictures film is directed and produced by Jason Reitman, who is also well known for his work on Juno. Dwelling on the past and the object of happiness is a major theme in Young Adult, which is also addressed in Juno through two teenagers’ accidental pregnancy. In this film, however, the teenager has become the adult but still acts as immature and naïve as a child.
Mavis’s constant primping is juxtaposed with her disheveled appearance while she’s alone. Charlize Theron is typically portrayed in a serious, strong female role which is contradicted heavily in this part. Having encountered negative feedback from others about the film, I went into it expecting a sub-par comedy with fair acting from Theron. I came out of the film unsure about the resolution and discontent with the message the film could have addressed. The end came about rather abruptly, however, the audience does come to see Mavis more clearly.
The New York Times upholds the belief that the Theron’s character is unlikable, but they also suggest the film “extends her a measure of sympathy.” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/09/movies/charlize-theron-in-young-adult-review.html