Review: “Young Adult” (MA) *** and a half

THE previous collaboration between director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody yielded a best-film Oscar nomination and Ellen Page won one for playing “Juno”.

“Young Adult” defies convention in numerous subtle ways, something Cody does well. Mavis, in her early 30s, briefly pregnant in her late teens, newly divorced, alcoholic, returns to the small Minnesota town of her childhood for the christening of the first child of Buddy (Patrick Wilson), whom after high school she failed to capture – a condition she intends to reverse.

Small-town life never suited Mavis. Now her publisher is pressing her to deliver her next pulp novel that is giving her writer’s block big time. Former classmates still don’t like her, except Matt (Patton Oswalt), the disabled chubby guy whom the kids at school wrongly thought was gay and his sister (Collette Wolfe), the only two who see merit in Mavis, who by any measure is not easy to like.

Playing a character resentful that life has failed to deliver the fame and fortune she expects as her due, Charlize Theron delivers as profound an experience as did her Oscar-winning portrayal of executed murderer Aileen Wournoss in “Monster”.

A true beauty, Theron has no qualms about playing unattractive. The film’s discomforting juxtaposition of those two qualities is totally admirable.

At Dendy and Hoyts

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