Sunday, 24 February 2013

Film Review: Young Adult

About the film
Young Adult is a comedy/ drama film that was released at the cinema on 3rd February 2012. The film was released on DVD on 25th June. Young Adult is rated 15 and has a run time of 93 minutes.

Although on a deadline to finish the last book in a series of which she is the ghost writer for,
Mavis Gary has just got divorced. She’s 37 and feels her life lacks meaning. Her book series has been cancelled and she has a failed marriage behind her. However, when Mavis receives an email from her ex-boyfriend in high school, she sees this as a sign that they are meant to be together – even if he and his wife have just had a baby. Mavis heads home to Mercury, Minnesota with the plans to win back her ex, Buddy, and get her life back in order.

What I thought
As a reviewer of young adult books, the title of this film instantly attracted me. However, before watching the film, I didn’t know anything about it other than Charlize Theron played the main character. Theron plays Mavis, a 37 year old woman who has just gone through a divorce. At the beginning of the film, Mavis is shown as a pretty pathetic character. She goes out drinking every night, sleeps with some random guy and spends her days wallowing in self-pity by watching re-runs of some really crappy TV show. Honestly, I didn’t like Mavis at all to begin with. However, Theron is her usual brilliant self as she is in any role she plays. When Theron takes on a role, she plays it to the fullest that she possibly can. That means she was the most pathetic Mavis that she could possibly be.

Although the title of the film does partly come from Mavis writing young adult novels, it also comes from her need to live through her past. Mavis is hell bent on getting her high school sweetheart back and doesn’t care one little bit that he appears to be happily married and has just has a baby with his wife. This aspect of the plot shows just how selfish and self-centred Mavis really is but also how desperate she is to get back to a time in her life when she felt good. It is quite obvious that life has not gone the way Mavis expected it to and she struggles with dealing with the fact that she is no longer the popular, prom queen anymore.

While Theron excels as Mavis, there are also some other cast members worth mentioning. The one who stood out for me was Patton Oswalt who plays Matt Freehauf. In high school, Matt was beaten up, leaving him partially disabled, and labelled as gay. When Mavis is out downing her sorrows again, she and Matt strike up an unlikely friendship as she lets him in on her plan to get Buddy back. Matt was a huge geek in high school and nothing has changed now that he’s grown up. However, Matt’s character is so likeable because he is very different from Mavis. Unlike her, he looks on the bright side of life and tries to get by as best he can. He doesn’t let bad things in the past get him down.

At first, I thought that this film was going to be a romantic comedy. It isn’t. Not by a long shot. In fact, it is quite depressing at times. While Mavis hasn’t had a bad life, she is constantly down about herself and tries to make herself happy with drinking and sleeping around. Even though I didn’t like her to begin with, I ended up feeling very sorry for her over the course of the film. Going from a big city to the small town she grew up in, it is clear just how much life has changed Mavis. Also, people back home don’t seem to have a very good opinion of Mavis, some of them commenting behind her back. Mavis hates small town life and wouldn’t be there if she didn’t think it could help her in some way.

Young Adult is a sad but moving story about what life can be like if you don’t take it for what it is. It is also a film about not living in the past, regretting things which you cannot change and dwelling on them for the rest of your life. While Young Adult was not at all what I was expecting, there is a great story and another fantastic performance by Charlize Theron.

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