Mavis Gary is an alcoholic that much is clear, she’s also a neurotic, self-obsessed bitch and we’re meant to sympathize with her. Mavis is played by Charlize Theron who establishes herself with this role as one of the most talented actresses working today.
Mavis writes teenage romance novels but they are not about vampires. The series is on its last legs and Mavis is being hounded by her publisher to give them a first draft. Mavis has gone back to her hometown of Mercury in search of the boy she lost, his name is Buddy Slade and he’s played by the endearingly earnest Patrick Wilson. When Buddy and Mavis were in high-school together they were inseparable. Fast forward twenty years later and Buddy is married with a newborn baby.
When Mavis finally sees Buddy she thinks his wife has taken away the life that was always rightfully hers. When Mavis finally gets into town she meets Matt Freehauf played by Patton Oswalt in his best role yet as a disabled local man who lives with his sister, paints figurines and distills his own toxic alcohol. Matt is quick to tell Mavis that she had a locker beside him for the entirety of high-school and never noticed him.
In Matt, Mavis meets her match with a person who hates as many things as she does and at the start of the picture they seem like polar opposites but as the story progresses you begin to see how similar they really are.
The film is directed by Jason Reitman, who on his fourth feature has established himself to be a very confident director of blackly comic, independent feature films. The screenplay was written by Diablo Cody who after first collaborating with Reitman on the wonderful Juno returns with a script that bites even harder and is more emotionally engaging then Juno MaGuffs baby trouble ever could be.
The comedy is at times laugh-out-loud and others cringe inducingly painful. One scene in particular set at a baby naming ceremony goes from absolutely hilarious to difficult to watch in a matter of seconds.
All of the cast are at the top of their game and the fact that a film as good as 'Young Adult' got snubbed entirely during awards season is a real shame for such a well-made, powerfully acted film.