YOUNG ADULT review, by Stephanie Andolino, Freelance Writer
Paramount Pictures, “Young Adult”, written by Academy Award winning writer Diablo Cody of “Juno” fame captures a true inside look of the single thirty-something fiction writer quite perfectly in this movie.
Protagonist Mavis Gary (played by Charlize Theron) as both a single woman and fiction writer often does not fit well into the square realities of society’s mold. While trying to recapture a sense of belonging, she decides to reconnect with old flame, Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson). It is a story that director Jason Reitman helped bring to life with the uncanny ability to combine both a raw emotional sensibility as well as comedic relief.
The comedy is thrown in subtly, like Mavis’s relationship with her adorable little dog that deserves an Oscar for cuteness! Another scene has lonely Mavis, clearly without any real friends, pretending to text while sitting alone at a restaurant. It is also a kick in the pants to watch Mavis listen-in on teenage girls’ conversations for inspiration for her juvenile fiction stories.
“Young Adult” is a true testament to the unsung heroes that are the ghostwriters of the world. There is a great scene where Mavis, is inside of a bookstore to see her own book on display with someone else’s name on the cover. She autographs the book in front of an employee, when he promptly lets her know her autographs are not needed. Every writer out there will feel how Mavis felt- an emotional slap in the face in that moment.
When Mavis heads back to her old town to look-up an old boyfriend, she’s faced with a cruel reality of how women are often perceived in her circumstance which is that of a pathetic old maid. Generally, if a man does the same, he is often perceived as an old-fashioned romantic. Perhaps that was Cody’s point in bringing that double standard to light.
Watch this R-Rated movie clip from “Young Adult” below:
In the end, it is clear that although many from her old hometown, including her old boyfriend, have grown up, none have evolved all that much making it very hard for someone like Mavis to fit-in. And hence, is Young Adult’s theme. According to Reitman, he never had any exact “message” for women or men going into this film. Reitman stated, “I see my job as storytelling from beginning to end.” He wants people to develop their own thoughts from the story. “I push you to think and not know all the answers. It would be the worst thing if you left one of my films and did not think or question it.”
When asked why he focuses most of his directing on projects featuring women, Reitman answered: “Women interest me far more than men.” Theron was his only choice for the leading woman. “I wasn’t going to do this film without Charlize,” said Reitman. He spoke of her talent to be able to combine both the sarcastic side of Mavis yet to have a vulnerability shine through. “She is able to change the light bulb from within… with raw talent.”
The life of a writer can be a challenging character to play. “It’s a lonely existence,” Reitman said. Some writers may have glorious and varied lives to be able to write such fiction. It can also be the opposite and for lack thereof, writers make-up for it with such fantastic stories. And in cyclical fashion, writers would not be able to write such inventive stories in the first place if they did not stray from everyday norms of society. Both cases undoubtedly are true for Mavis. It is ironic that Mavis and many other writers may agree that they are made to feel badly for not fitting-in with the rest of the world. Yet, ironically, it is the world that in turn craves reading their fiction to escape reality!
“Young Adult” opens in theaters in limited release on December 9, 2011. Opens wide in theaters December 16, 2011.