Young Adult - DVD Review

'Quite what the point of shoving the 'issues' in to our face for so long was come the end remains a bit murky, lost in haze of whiskey shots and diet coke recovery.'

Jason Reitman's unashamedly awkward look at what happened to the prom queen who left school and town and never grew out of some very nasty habits, Young Adult has an acerbic take on what is casually called the 'mid-life crisis'. In reality, the emotional issues run much deeper than this convenient label, and the film's moral quandaries are more pronounced than the light-hearted day-glo marketing wants you to believe. This isn't a comedy. It's an 'issues' movie.

Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) has all of the contemporary issues and then some. A writer with something approaching writer's block, on the edge of losing her job, an alcoholic, with a strained parental relationship and, from what we can see, no real friends to speak of, Mavis is a walking disaster with emotions that fray further the longer the film goes on. Obsessed with rekindling a long dead relationship with high school sweetheart Buddy (Patrick Wilson), Mavis comes dangerously close to having the makeup of a character from a horror film, if she was just pushed one inch further.

As an interesting exploration of the issues raised, Young Adult has lots going for it but Reitman's dedication to the awkwardness he clearly seeks to create comes into question often and the outstanding question with most films featuring an unlikeable protagonist - where should our sympathies be? - is never resolved. It's easy to feel sorry for Mavis but also easy to intensely dislike her, as Reitman's one prolonged bout of awkwardness, on Buddy's lawn, proves. Quite what the point of shoving the 'issues' in to our face for so long was come the end remains a bit murky, lost in haze of whiskey shots and diet coke recovery.

Not that Young Adult ever feels like a wasted exercise. It is sharply observed by Reitman, if not with an entirely successful comic eye, and the tongue-lashing the film gives that most prevalent of contemporary fake heroes - the stuck up, modern-living, urbanite - is welcome. Perhaps though, with so many serious topics worthy of coverage, a sometimes gentler tone could have been taken, or at least attempted at moments. Mavis, it seems - and perhaps Buddy and Matt (Patton Oswalt) too - are not quite worthy of ultimate redemption in the director's eyes.




Young Adult is out on DVD in the UK on Monday 25th June.


This post in association with Zavvi.

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