Synopsis: A once successful writer decides to return to her Minnesota hometown to try and recapture her youth by rekindling a romance with her now happily married high school sweetheart
Based on the synopsis this has all the hallmarks of a zany rom com. I bet you can totally see Katherine Heigl and some dude with a chiselled jaw getting in to all kinds of shenanigans. Young Adult is, however, neither zany nor a rom com. Although there are shenanigans and it is funny.
Directed by Jason Reitman (Up In The Air; Juno) and written by Diablo Cody (Juno) Young Adult centres around the misguided fantasies of Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) a deeply cynical, self obsessed former High School hottie who got out of her hick town, moved to the “big city” and became a semi-famous ghost writer. Living a slovenly cliched writer’s life style in her messy apartment, she is spurred into action after receiving an email from her former boyfriend Buddy (Patrick Wilson) who is now happily married and a proud new father.
From her own warped perspective the arrival of said baby is a sign of Buddy’s unhappiness and she decides to return home in a sadly delusional bid to save him from his slavish marriage and responsibilities of fatherhood. In her own mind she is the saviour he has been waiting for.
Reitman’s trademark talent for portraying smart, if emotionally vacant, characters is perfect for this skewed take on the Peter Pan syndrome. As the girl who is incapable of letting go of her past and growing up, Charlize Theron gives a brilliant Ice Queen performance, rarely letting her expression digress too far from a scowl of utter contempt for the poor genes of her former classmates. Patrick Wilson is fine as the clueless object of her desire but it is Patton Oswalt as Matt, her former classmate and fat geeky voice of reason, who provides Young Adult’s warmth and moral compass to Theron’s dangerously misguided Mavis.
Conclusion: Young Adult is a sorely overlooked gem in Theron’s back catalogue, even it will leaving you feeling as cold as the Minnesota snow.
Cast: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt, Elizabeth Reaser