Thanks to David Poland for linking to this early review of Young Adult, which quietly screened in the twin cities. The review says it’s new territory for a Hollywood film to showcase a female anti-hero, which translates as — Charlize Theron playing an unlikable character. This is in contrast to the early word that this was her “Jerry Maguire,” as that character couldn’t be more likable. Although Tom Cruise did play someone unlikable, brilliantly, I might add, in Magnolia. For Reitman fans who prefer his darker films (raises hand) this should be thick and juicy:
Edgy, subversive and hilariously embarrassing, “Young Adult” undercuts the conventions of female-centered comedies at each turn. It manages to keep us invested in the story despite focusing almost every scene on a thoroughly unpleasant protagonist. The supporting characters provide the homespun humanity Mavis lacks, especially Wilson as the bland new papa and Elizabeth Reaser as his funloving wife.
Theron delivers a brave, darkly amusing performance as a one-time alpha female realizing that life is passing her by. In her scenes with Oswalt, Theron drops her character’s mask of mean girl poise, revealing the fear, loneliness and confusion beneath. “Young Adult’s” skepticism that Mavis can fan these flickers of self-awareness into a flame of understanding is a guage of its sophistication. Cody and Reitman would rather close their film on a lifelike, unresolved note than force its characters into a contrived happy ending. Audiences may not embrace Mavis immediately — she’s too spiky for that. But there’s little doubt that in time she’ll join Marge Gunderson and Juno Temple as one of Minnesota’s emduring and iconic film characters.
When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose, as Dylan would say; having not won the Oscar in an 11th hour shocker, Jason Reitman is perhaps freed up to do what he was born to do: tell great stories. The mushy Oscar stuff? Leave that to the British. Just kidding. Looking forward to Young Adult – and liking this year’s females kicking doors down — in Bridesmaids, being gross and funny and making a lot of money while doing so, in The Help – headlining a movie with, gasp, black characters that also owned the box office? What in the world is happening?