Like Juno and vampire-flick Jennifer’s Body, writer Diablo Cody likes to write about women who have both external and, to an extent, more pressing internal issues. In Young Adult, our heroine is 37-year-old Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), a struggling writer whose divorce has led her back to her home town in Minnesota where, along old school friend Matt (Patton Oswalt), she hatches a plan to win back her old high school flame Buddy Slade, played by Patrick Wilson.
Young Adult takes the audience on a very fast ride, moving from scene to scene with Gary as she self-destructs under the pressure of writing the latest in a series of successful fiction novels. After discovering her first love’s wife is expecting a new baby, she then embarks on an almost Kill Bill-type vendetta, stopping at nothing to try and win Slade back.
It is evident to see that director Jason Reitman had fun shooting the film as Theron adds her own style to get the lazy and obnoxious side of Gary just right. Due to the script being fast paced, the leads to the humour flowing thick and fast – which can get lost on a British audience, as the American references are sometimes too colloquial to understand. A strong narrative involves a protagonist dramatically changing throughout the course of the story, and Mavis Gary does exactly this in what is one of Theron’s strongest roles of her career since Monster.
Patrick Wilson plays the clueless Buddy Slade, happy to see his old girlfriend back in town but staying oblivious to her true intentions. I don’t feel we see enough of Wilson’s character on screen and, to some extent, this dampens the manic infatuation that Gary has on Slade throughout. But having said that, the scenes involving the two characters are some the funniest in the film.
The audience is sucked in from the beginning and served a dark comedy that is light when it needs to be, but still presses and addresses the issue of depression in a very emotional way. With just the right touch of laughs added from a very funny Patton Oswalt, Young Adult is strong contender to be the best film of January 2012.
Watch the trailer of Young Adult here