Theron is Mavis Gary, a borderline alcoholic and writer of a high school novel series who, after divorce hits her hard, heads back to her hometown to rekindle a romance with her teenage sweetheart Buddy (Patrick Wilson). The only problem here, though, is that Buddy is happily married with a young daughter. However, such inconvenience won’t stop Mavis on her quest to rewrite her own life story.
After following up Juno with the misfiring Jennifer’s Body, a horror-comedy that satisfied neither genre, Cody’s back on firmer ground here. Where Ellen Page’s Juno was an intellectual outsider, Mavis is from the opposite side of the high school divide – the prom queen whose life hasn’t panned out as expected, and being a writer looking to validate her (early Nineties alt-indie-soundtracked) life, it’s easy to see similarities with Cody’s career trajectory here too.
The script calls for Theron to reveal a lot, emotionally and physically, and she bravely throws herself in to the role, making Mavis equal parts empathetic, sympathetic and vile, loaded with a writer’s vicious tongue and an alkie’s self pity.
Cody’s pop culture dialogue is less pronounced, here, making Young Adult, despite its name, a more mature film, and Reitman, bringing a lightness of touch to the dark subject matter, ensures it emerges with the right balance of knowing smarts, kooky cool and lived-it insight, too.
Film review by Alasdair Morton
Good for: Nineties indie nostalgists and those who like their comedy extra dark.
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson | 15 | 93mins