Following a turbulent year of ludicrous plots with infantile humour (Thanks a lot Adam Sandler), comes a thought-provoking comedy, emulating a rare sense of poignancy and fearlessness. Screenwriter Diablo Cody, best known for her work in Juno and Jennifer’s Body presents a subtly-stimulating script, providing the foundation for Jason Reitman’s impeccable directing and Charlize Theron’s outstanding portrayal of Mavis Gary.
The plot centres on a 30-odd year old young adult fiction author who, in simple terms, has not grown up. Such a personality trait is slowly personified through Mavis Gary’s longing to rekindle a relationship with her high school boyfriend; the only problem is, he’s happily married with a newborn daughter. Viewers are taken on an enlightening anti-coming-of-age journey, as Mavis comes to realise that high school did not mark the “end” of her “golden years” — her life is only just beginning. Despite the simple concept, the film delves into the mind of its protagonist without stereotyping or misjudging her. The vulgar mouth, alcohol-addiction and broken marriage of this identity-stricken adult elucidates the three-dimensional character of Mavis Gary, with such characteristics possibly indicating her psychologically-destructive state.
Like most of Diablo Cody’s films, Young Adult is the complete opposite of cliché as it disables the viewer from predicting what is yet to come. By this, I mean the dialogue encompasses comical-colloquialism, accurately representing the social settings of the film. The use of subtle metaphors, including Mavis’s cassette player and accompanying tapes are implemented to symbolise her inability to move on; a formidable technique, which is further complimented by Reitman’s incredible script-to-screen adaptation.
Diabo’s creation of this emotionally-unstable character is to be commended, followed by Theron’s beautifully-antagonistic onscreen performance. Reitman’s direction is great, as he transcends the realistic nature of the script into a relatable and thought-provoking film. The uneasy and snappy editing further encapsulates the protagonist’s instability, while the supporting cast explores the concept of normality in a superb manner. This is not a Hollywood-blockbuster, nor is it perfect; however, it’s quality entertainment. The comedic value of the film is a plus, as the dialogue does not conform to Adam Sandler’s “try too hard” jokes. Instead, humour comes out of the everyday activities of the protagonist, as the viewer learns to empathise and relate to Mavis in an unusual and unpredictable way.
Having said that, Young Adult will not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s not action-packed, nor is it tremendously complex — it may actually seem quite shallow to some viewers. It primarily encompasses a formidable screenplay that engulfs a sense of realistic pleasure.
Overall, Young Adult is a comedy exploring the complexities of adulthood and the fulfilment many desire, yet are unable to attain. Its simplicity, coupled with the film’s brilliant dialogue induce a sense of “warmness” as the viewer personally recognises the personal development of Mavis. Although, many may find it “slow” due to its unidealised plot, it truly is a film like no other. Certainly, many may find that the film’s major flaw is its flat plot; however, it is a pure representation of life, and of course, life is not a Hollywood picture. So, if you’re yearning for an enjoyably-entertaining film, then this is what you’ve been looking for. You never know, you may start reexamining your own life, too.