Find us on facebook

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"Young Adult", unlikely princesses & painful fairy tales

Young Adult

After watching lately some quite hyped movies that didn't meet the expectations, it's nice to see one in which what matters is the story. Finally a film with an engaging script and a director developing it! The exclamation mark is in order. Cinema its getting so depressively empty that we have to celebrate works like "Young Adult". Director Jason Reitman and scriptwriter Diablo Cody are among the most interesting talents in recent years. As a duo, they created the charming, charismatic "Juno", a film that would have been insufferable in different hands. And Reitman alone has an immaculate curriculum including "Thank You for Smoking" and "Up in the Air".

Before going into the film, allow me a little complaint/warning. "Young Adult" has been marketed as a dark comedy. Which is utterly wrong. If people is looking for an adult "Juno", full of acid one-liners with a romantic background, the disappointment is going to be huge. "Young Adult" is, on the surface, a very simple film, with a very simple premise and development: a homecoming. But it is one of this rare films that suggests so much, that hides and retains such a (personal?) history behind and poses many questions and uncertainties for the future. Hell! its even the sort of film that scares a bit. It shows a human being completely lost, adrift. And is frighteningly recognisable.

To me this film works (and sometimes excels) thanks to Diablo Cody's script, in particular with the construction of the main character, Mavis Gary, the fundamental pillar in which the story revolves. Opposite to "Juno", she doesn't need to talk much to reveal how damaged she is, how desperate she is, to the point of creating a fantasy, based on her "glorious past" that she tries (extremely hard) to transform into reality. The amount of scenes in which her personality is exposed by little details (sort of personal "rituals": nails, dresses, tapes, hair) is extraordinary. Taking advantage of the fact/irony Mavis is supposed to be a writer herself, you don't see characters so well penned that often

Of course, such a potentially great character needed and actress capable of carrying it on her shoulders. And Charlize Theron took the challenge wonderfully. If you allow me the easy reference, she creates a real, credible "Monster", without having to transform herself physically (the Oscar's Academy should learn something about it). Along with Theron is Patton Oswalt as Matt Freehauf, the unexpected college friend, and also very damaged person, that serves as her support/conscience's voice. Without Oswalt's solid performance his role could have been very dangerous for the credibility of the film. 

The bitterness/darkness that prevails during the majority of "Young Adult" length (another fact to praise, against the tendency of making unnecessarily overlong films, this clocks in less than 90 minutes) makes you stuck into your chair, thrilled by the amount of refinements the story acquires in many levels, and waiting for a resolution (admittedly, a bit scared for it as well), and in this sense, when it arrives, its a bit unsatisfactory. It is shocking, even disturbing, but I'm afraid is (partially) based in what it seemed a very crucial scene that surprisingly doesn't have consequences. Related to that, the character of Buddy Slade, performed by Patrick Wilson, needed more development to fully understand his behaviour.  

"Young Adult"'s last chapters and resolution might harm the film as a whole. It's like Reitman tried too hard to condense, and with the laudable will of restrain what could have turn into an awful, cliché-driven drama about moral degradation and coming home (city versus rural, familiar values versus modern values, etc), sacrificing some of the possibilities the story had, in order to lead it into an open conclusion that works fine in terms of Mavis, the character, (what we are seeing contradicting the triumphant off-voice) but is somewhat weak in terms of the film's potential. Or maybe it's just me, cause I thought this disgusting, unlikely heroine was going to overblown me as she did during the majority of the film. Imperfect movie, but highly recommendable. 

SCORE: 7/10

No comments:

Post a Comment