Thursday, December 22, 2011

YA - Film Review

Toronto Premier Poster for Young Adult

Nowadays young adult fiction is best represented by Harry Potter and Twilight, when I was a kid and a teen/tween in the 80's it was maybe best represented by Judy Blume with Are you there God, it's Me, Margaret and later, The Sweet Valley High series. Come summer time, I would be outside til it was dark or curled up in a chair reading for days. 

Being a big movie fan and a teenager of that time, the 80's teen movie is definitely a genre I can't resist even though inching nearer to 40.  From the good 80's teen flick (i.e.:Valley Girl & Pretty in Pink), to the not so good (i.e. Teen Wolf & Girls Just Want to Have Fun), these films and novels are perhaps the one thing that awakens my sense of blind nostalgia for those days. 

In this way I can somewhat relate to the nostalgia felt by 37 year old, recently divorced Mavis Gary, played by Charlize Theron in the film Young Adult. Mavis is the writer of a young adult book series and we meet her in the middle of a midlife crisis in Minneapolis Minnesota. Director Jason Reitman follows Mavis' misguided attempt to fix her damaged life by heading home to the "hick" town she happily left behind to win back her high school flame, now married and a new father.

Charlie Theron and Patrick Wilson

The film was shot in 30 days between Minneapolis, Minnesota, upstate and Brooklyn New York. Visually bleak and emotionally dark, it is an ode to falling apart at the seams and hitting rock bottom. Even the wardrobe, compiled largely of thrift shop clothing mined from a Minnesota "Thrift Town" conveys Mavis' depression and alternately the ensembles she acquires to attempt to hide it.

Unlike so many of the action, comedy and period films that open around the holidays approaching the New Year, it is for me, refreshing to see some of the starker realities of life reflected on the big screen.  These realities do not after all, go away because of our love (or loathing) of the holidays. 

Patton Oswalt and Charlize Theron

Writer Diablo Cody who gave us Juno presents Mavis as a woman attempting to live through her perception by others once upon a time, and dealing with her own unkind and long held perceptions of self. Unlike in Juno. there is rarely any comic relief to the angst that is Mavis' existence. Although I found the story a bit drawn  in representing this angst frame after frame upon her arrival home, the emotional impact of Mavis facing her own demons and identifying a new chapter in her life, is perhaps, worth the wait.

And when it comes to facing demons and starting a new chapter, I can relate there too. 

xo, V