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Young Adult - Review

Young Adult

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THERE are probably many, many reasons why Young Adult could have failed. That it overcomes them in such intelligent and humorous fashion only makes it more impressive.

Directed by Jason Reitman from a script by Diablo Cody (the duo behind Juno) the film follows the misfortunes of frustrated writer Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) as she resolves to head back to her hometown to win back her childhood sweetheart (Patrick Wilson) despite the fact he is now a happily married new dad.

What ensues is an uncomfortable but sometimes even touching mix of comedy and drama as Theron’s mixed up, crazy bitch attempts to do her worst under the watchful gaze of another former high schooler, Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt).

Young Adult could have failed dismally if it had tried to pander to obvious stereotypes or overly cringe inducing scenarios that are played for maximum audience laughs as well as ultimate character humiliation.

But by keeping things real without spoon-feeding too much, Reitman and Cody ensure that the film works on a far more mature level.

Theron’s Mavis is somebody you’ll love to hate but she’s far from an irredeemable black heart with a comeuppance in waiting. The actress keeps her human and draws out the layers, hinting at back stories that might explain her current situation while never demanding or expecting sympathy either. It’s a masterful performance.

But she’s well supported by the likes of Oswalt, similarly dysfunctional but no less likeable, and Wilson, who maintains a quiet dignity and indifference, that lends the film its heart and soul.

For Oswalt, in particular, this is a star-making movie turn as his Matt is a clever blend of self-loathing cynic and curious optimist.

Reitman, for his part, maintains a nice pace and some wry observations on the absurdities of modern living (whether it’s the proliferation of brands or franchises) and the complexity and hypocrisy of everyday emotions.

Hence, Young Adult is a smart and hugely enjoyable further entry into a richly diverse CV that already includes such highlights as Juno and Up In The Air. Being made to feel uncomfortable has seldom been so much enjoyable.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 90mins
UK Release Date: February 3, 2012