Young Adult is a comedy-drama about a woman returning home in order to relive her high school glory years. Mavis is a cynical, successful writer of teenage fiction who returns to her small home town to win back her high school crush: Buddy, now happily married and with kids. Buddy isn’t particularly willing though, and having been roundly despised at school, Mavis doesn’t find support with her old chums and the plans go awry. But she manages to get assistance from one former classmate who hasn’t quite gotten over his high school years either.
‘Young Adult’ see’s the return of the writer/director combination that was behind ‘Juno’ for this character study about an adult woman struggling with her current situation in life, and seeking to recapture the glory days of her high school years. ‘Young Adult’ is Jason Reitman’s follow up film to 2009’s ‘Up in the Air’, and since working on ‘Juno’ writer Diablo Cody has written for ‘Jennifer’s Body’, various episodes of ‘United States of Tara’ and is attached to the remake of ‘The Evil Dead.’
‘Young Adult’ is something of a slow burn to begin with as it takes its time to intricately introduce our main character and the details of her life, the film articulates a detailed history to the character to help the audience gain an understanding of where she is at in life and the catalyst for her return to her home town seeking her the glory days of her past.
The film quickly moves into some more dramatic material and achieves a good blend of drama and comedy slowly evolving into something more interesting and no doubt thematically familiar to some audience members. The notion of revisiting the past particularly our high school years brings with it a level of fascination to many people, raising questions like what would they do differently? What do they regret or are happy with? Thematically it’s an interesting idea and the film makes great use of exploring this concept as the various characters seek to reconnect with their past.
However ‘Young Adult’ goes beyond this as it is also a detailed study of a complex character whose motivations for the journey are linked to the complications of her modern life and the struggles she is facing after previously achieving such interesting and enviable goals.
Charlize Theron is a versatile actress, she has pursued roles beyond the mainstream and hasn’t been shy of reshaping her image beyond the typical glamorous Hollywood actresses for her art. Her previous film ‘Monster’ is a perfect example of this, and here in ‘Young Adult’ she again embraces this idea and delivers a fully fleshed our character making the most of the material in the script to give a great performance. Patton Oswalt also gives a great performance here and he skilfully walks the line between comedy and drama with the conflicted nature of his character.
Patrick Wilson had less to work with in terms of material than some of his co-stars, however I found his performance somewhat underwhelming as I have in some of his previous works. In ‘Young Adult’ Wilson is perfectly serviceable in his role but is outshined by both Theron and Oswalt in their respective roles.
‘Juno’ for me was interesting but not overly exciting and Diablo Cody has disappointed with some of her follow up work (I’m looking at you ‘Jennifer’s Body’), and while I have my reservations about her involvement with the ‘Evil Dead’ remake, with ‘Young Adult’ she’s delivered something interesting thematically with a complex character and a sound support roster.
I’m giving ‘Young Adult’ 3.5 out of 5 stars, it’s released theatrically around Australian on Thursday 19th January 2012.