Young Adult

There’s one (at least) in every school, that girl, miss popular but who in fact everyone hated. Young Adult explores the story of one such woman who never managed to grow out of that petulant teenage phase.

The story follows Mavis (Charlize Theron), who in her late 30’s, is perfectly suited as a writer (or ghost-writer) of teen fiction as she is still firmly in that mindset herself. By playing out her own fantasies in her writing and occasionally eavesdropping on angsty teenage conversations, she gets her books written but the series has fizzled out and she is now under pressure to get the last book finished. Drinking and junk-food-eating her days away, she laments her youthful prom-queen days and suddenly decides to return to her home town to get back the life she has lost; starting with her old high school sweetheart  Buddy, the fact that he’s married and has recently become a father doesn’t seem to faze her in the slightest

She makes the decision to stay in town until she has won him back, encountering past school nerd Patton Oswalt in the process, the two strikes up a friendship. After being crippled by some guys back in high-school, he is as lonely and frustrated as her but she only sees him as someone to drink with and confide her harebrained schemes to.

From the makers of Juno, the screenplay is as snappy as you would expect but is also more grounded and realistic than Ellen Page’s brilliant but unrealistically cavalier teen. Though funny, the plot goes deeper than you might expect as the sources of Mavis’ unhappiness are revealed and you discover how she has become so disillusioned. Theron will have you squirming in your seat with many cringe-inducing moments, topping it all off with a meltdown at Buddy’s daughter’s baby shower.

Theron is marvellous as the woman you love to hate, even more so as she drinks like a fish, seems to eat nothing but fast-food and has a worrying habit of pulling her hair out but still manages to look great. She is rude and selfish and confuses her bitchiness for honesty. One of the characters in the film describes her as a ‘psychotic prom-queen bitch’ as apt a description as any and it’s just a thrilling ride just to see what lengths she will go to and what she will do next. It’s fun, surprisingly poignant adventure which will leave you glad you left people like Mavis behind.

Verdict:***

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