Sunday, January 15, 2012

Young Adult

(image taken from LA Times)

(image taken from Liberta's Film Magazine)

(image taken from Movies Hate You Too)

(image taken from The New York Times, Movie Review Section)

(image taken from Movies About Gladiators)

(image taken from Dork Shelf)

Before the Christmas holiday, the filmmaker and I went out to the movies to see Young Adult; desirous of something more light and comedic, we bypassed the other popular, obvious choice Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Having read nothing about Young Adult prior, knowing only that Charlize Theron starred and that Cody Diablo of Juno fame was behind the inception and creation, I assumed our choice would, indeed, be mostly light and comedic. Instead, we embarked on a bitterly tumultuous emotional trajectory of a woman, no longer young and not quite old enough to have surrendered gracefully and without shame, plummeting to new echelons of pathetic. Though taken by surprise at the gravity of the themes and the subtle, believable anguish exuded by specific characters, I enjoyed the film immensely, to the point of sobbing tears toward the end.

The protagonist, perhaps more appropriately labeled the central character, shifts throughout the narrative in a delusional bubble: from her affected sophisticated and fabulous lifestyle in the big city of Minneapolis, to her dramatic and ill-fated return to her small, quaint hometown a mere few hours away, she displays this feigning confidence, this attitude of superiority at those she has purportedly left behind in her dust, ignorant of her own journey crawling back lowly and slowly to those who abandoned her. She pays a visit to this small, commercial franchise and strip mall laden town to pursue, seduce, secure the one who in her perspective escaped her, the high school boyfriend from over a decade ago, now happily married with a baby daughter. In a rather remarkably unsubtle, overt device, though one that is endearing despite its obvious nature, she has not escaped the young adult emotional realm for which she ghost pens frivolous, hackneyed, and unpopular novels. Watching her brag to other characters about the excitement of living and thriving in an urban bastion, then in a subsequent scene drunkenly scarf down plates of fast-food fried chicken and processed mashed potatoes incited a painful cringe that reverberated back and forth across the spines of the audience. Watching her endure an unplanned, inadvertent reunion with her parents, during which she actually honestly admits to struggling with alcoholism, a statement received with humored scoff and denial and her silence, worry and sympathy sank into the tongues of the audience.

Like so many various characters from my own past, this woman views her high school youth as the life pinnacle of beauty and happiness, her perspective perhaps more than a bit obscured by a failed marriage and divorce, a waning and thankless career in ghost writing. When confronted with the happiness and satisfaction in the life of the man that she knew, essentially, only as a boy, she is confused and hurt and embarrassed; she allows herself to continue to fall so that she will learn. Learn that, in actuality, she has never taken a risk in her life, never ventured into new uncharted territory, as she writes under a fictional name, lives in a small city within an afternoon drive of her disdained small town.

I wept at the end; I did not see a mirror image of myself in this whiskey-binging and over-primping debacle of woman desperately seeking affection and honesty, however, I saw some familiar shadows. I have had conversations with particular friends about those we know, those who chose and embrace uncomplicated lives, those who reside near the familiar nest of our childhood. I recognize the envy. The fear of taking risks. Admittedly, I entered the theater in a particularly downtrodden mood and was vulnerable to the carefully constructed pangs of cinematic truism. Much of this reads rather melodramatically, however, what I believe she also learns at the end is that she may not be too old to remain stagnant, that perhaps there is hope for evolution and opportunity to begin to love herself. A lesson trite, but true.



  2. wow, i really loved reading this review- you have a way with words. i also thought this was going to be a comedy and immediately passed on it but now i have to check it out! thanks!


  3. I wanna watch it! :) Loved it! Take a look at my blog too! I'll be waiting for you! If you follow me, jeust let me know, because I'll come back and follow you :) Kisses!

  4. I wanted to see this, and now I really really want to see this. Thanks for posting a great review!

    Haley @ Cardigan Junkie