So I finally watched Young Adult, which has been on my “to see” list since it came out. I really like Charlize Theron and her willingness to play really complicated, unattractive people, and she didn’t disappoint. Her portrayal of Mavis Gary was spot on, full of nuance and invested with a sense of waste that was hard to watch in spots. But it’s not like you can look away from Theron when she’s onscreen; the woman is electric.
I have to give credit to Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman too, obviously, as the writer/director duo that created the character Theron was able to breathe such terrible life into. I’ve seen and read a lot of “character studies,” and I usually find them dissatisfying (at best) and even boring (at worst), which has discouraged me from attempting one myself. But Young Adult reinvigorated my interest in the genre (would you consider it a genre?) by demonstrating how it can be done in a way that’s compelling and thought-provoking. I’m trying to parse out all the different factors that went into making it so watchable, and this is nowhere near a complete list, but here are some of the elements that I think the movie really nails.