How gorgeous is Charlize Theron? Outrageously. In the new (and verrrry dark) movie Young Adult, she is not only gorgeous but super duper gutsy, for one simple reason: she’s not afraid to play someone you don’t like. At all. NOR does this mean she’s a baddie. She’s not a villain…this is not The Joker or Jigsaw or Freddie Krueger or even the serial killer Theron played so (Oscar-)winningly in Monster. She’s just a gal who has lots of negative impulses. Part of the film’s weirdness, and part of what makes it an “indie”, is that it’s not about good and bad, per se. Vaguely discomforting, I know.
In the 1940s “film noir” became all the rage. These were movies (shot in black & white, natch) which often featured morally “ambiguous” characters. Which just means they just plain weren’t good or bad. They weren’t heroes or heroines – they were just very human and thus they were fascinating and pretty unsettling.Often they did foolish things due to greed. Or just a base desire. Young Adult’s got a very noir component because the protagonist is one of these types. She’s the story’s focus and she is very troubled – so sometimes you like her just fine, but most of the time you don’t. Which doesn’t mean the movie’s not fun to watch, because it is. And funny, like you read about. Who knew Charlize Theron was funny? I didn’t.
Really good things should happen to Patton Oswalt for his role in this film. The comedian (best known as the voice of Ratatouille) turns in a searing and honestly heartbreaking performance. He was the victim of a “hate crime” which makes the movie even more disturbing – and when you find out the details of the hate crime, you’ll see just how twisted a mind Diablo Cody has. Now Cody wrote Juno, which was pretty tame, although she also wrote Jennifer’s Body, which wasn’t. Cody’s clearly not afraid to make audiences squirm and cringe – deliberately.
So Charlize Theron is a young adult fiction writer who decides to return home and reconnect with her high school sweetheart (Patrick Wilson) in the tiny town where they grew up. Trouble is, he’s a happily married brand new father whose wife (Twilight’s Elizabeth Reaser) couldn’t be nicer. Theron knows this and is still determined to turn over the apple cart; we watch her efforts to woo the dude back – just when his newborn arrives. Patrick Wilson (who stars in TV’s kind of intriguing Gifted Man) is his usual good looking, good guy, guileless self. He’s perfect here, in rugged flannel with baby formula spilled on it.
It’s a sharp, smart performance by Theron, although you don’t see the vulnerability and hopelessness she displayed in Monster. Still, there’s a raggedness about her here, and at times she’s utterly mesmerizing. She says the stuff that you think but you’d never say out loud. The whole movie is kind of like laughing at a funeral. Which means pretty inappropriate. But fun, nonetheless.
1) Aeon Flux
4) The Italian Job