Young Adult (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/02/2012

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 94 mins

Sharply directed and superbly written, this is a hugely enjoyable and refreshingly unpredictable black comedy with a terrific central performance from Charlize Theron.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody (reteaming for the first time since Juno), Young Adult stars Charlize Theron as Mavis Gary, a messed up teen-fiction novelist who lives in Minneapolis. When she learns that her high-school sweetheart Buddy (Patrick Wilson) has had a baby, she impulsively heads to her small-town home with the intention of winning him back, despite the fact that he's happily married to Beth (Elizabeth Reaser).

Naturally, things don't go entirely according to plan and Mavis ends up drunkenly bonding with disabled former classmate Matt (Patton Oswalt), who she initially only remembers as “the gay-bashing guy”, because of the hate-crime that led to his disability. However, she refuses to listen to Matt's sage advice and instead redoubles her efforts with Buddy, with disastrous results.

The Good
Charlize Theron is terrific as Mavis (if there was any justice, she'd be the Best Actress front-runner this year, but she's been criminally overlooked in the Oscar noms), delivering a jaw-dropping performance that's the polar opposite of the traditional (and tired) romcom heroine cliché. Oswalt (also robbed of a Best Supporting Actor nomination) is equally good as Matt, who's significantly better adjusted overall, but who still hasn't really moved on (the title of the film plays on both arrested development and the industry term for teen fiction).

Diablo Cody's script ditches Juno's all-pervasive smart-alecky teen-speak in favour of something much more realistic that has an air of painful truth to it. It's a testament to both the strength of the writing and the quality of Theron's performance that Mavis remains sympathetic even when she's behaving in the most monstrously appalling manner, because we can see just how screwed up she is, even if she doesn't quite realise it herself.

The Great
Reitman gets the tone exactly right, ensuring some decent laughs but keeping the surprisingly dark comedy rooted in the characters and taking the film in some refreshingly unexpected directions. On a similar note, the film has a lot of fun inverting the standard romcom tropes, with extremely effective results.

Worth seeing?
Young Adult is an impressively directed, hugely enjoyable black comedy with an intelligent, brilliantly written script and an awards-worthy performance from Charlize Theron. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Young Adult (15)
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Content updated: 21/09/2018 12:34

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