Young Adult features incisive, incredibly specific writing by Diablo Cody, collaborating again with director Jason Reitman. The duo who brought us Juno have given us another gem, a slightly harsh black comedy with great characters brought to life by brilliant actors. Patton Oswalt’s Matt and Charlize Theron’s Mavis are a marvelous screen couple – virtual strangers with nothing but their hometown in common (and completely different memories of high school) who bicker like two old ladies and judge each other both insightfully and cruelly. Mavis, who ghost writes a series of young adult books, remains an adolescent herself, with little regard for anything other than the all-consuming idea that she will get her high school boyfriend back no matter what it takes.
Theron is amazing as the oblivious Mavis, and oddly, Oswalt is the perfect foil for her. Reitman made an excellent decision when he cast this strange pairing, and it’s hilarious and poignant when Matt struggles to make Mavis face the truth, while trapped in his own world of hurt. These characters are not simple – they are not just one thing. They both confirm and explode stereotypes – the popular cheerleader who was voted “Best Hair” has deep-seated anxiety, and the disabled loser who assembles action figures has more insight and depth than the quarterback ever will.
Young Adult is the kind of utterly original work that belies the constant grind of sequels and loud smashing crashing noisy movies which in their banality seem to diminish the entire art form. It’s also really funny.
Young Adult is playing at the Kendall Square Cinema in Cambridge.