It's Friday. The Friday before one of the biggest weekends of the year: the infamous New Years Eve. Crazy parties, packed clubs, popped bottles...the party of
the year for
the year. BUT if by chance you aren't planning on getting buckwild this weekend, go see Young Adult. Or at least do it in between your buckwildness.
God does this movie resonate. Not only because it's intense to watch, but also because Charlize Theron's character Mavis is so entirely empty that everything happening just echoes around inside her. The film brilliantly tells the story of a woman with the spoiled mind of a 16 year old. Vain, petty, drunk and down for anonymous sex, Mavis is the life of a party that ended some time ago. Her dominating presence and mean girl attitude combine well with her permanent dark circles and the bald spot she's getting from compulsively pulling out her hair -- an asset she won the superlative for in high school.
She is stunted and stuck, but to everyone back home she's the one who made it. Mavis was prom queen. She won best hair. She dated a football star and when school ended she moved away from her suffocatingly small hometown of Mercury, Minnesota to the big-time glory of The Mini Apple (that's Minneapolis to you.) She ghost writes a popular young adult series and lives in an apartment with a view. She has a life
, unlike those losers stuck in Mercury -- at least that's what she tells her friend at lunch before heading back home to pass out in front of Keeping Up with the Kardashians
again. Everything in her life, from the TV she watches, the books she writes, and even the dates she finds on Ok Cupid are empty.
Mavis is jolted when she receives an email announcing the birth of her ex-boyfriend’s baby with his wife. Billy was the love of her life, the one who got away — at least he is now. Before the email he was just a memory, after the email he became a challenge.
The email was a sign, a cry for help -- he was trapped and miserable and Mavis knew she had to save him. It's her job to think this way. She spends her days detailing the exploits of high schoolers in the books she writes, she knows their minds inside and out because that's become her mind too. Even if she is 37. She haphazardly packs and races back home, replaying an ancient mixtape entitled "Much Love, From Billy." She belts out the same Teenage Fanclub song over and over as she both physically and mentally gets herself back to her hometown, back to being a teenager, back to being the object of Billy's decade past affection. Happy family be damned, Mavis is back in town.
The exploits beyond the first five minutes of the movie chronicle the story of an entirely unlikable protagonist -- an extremely rare cinematic occurrence. The film rips apart the conventional ideas of personal growth and presents us with a person who just never changed. The world never made her do it. We watch as Mavis interacts with the people in her hometown, the manipulation, self-pity and bitterness she offers up without irony or a second thought. We flinch as she is thwarted at every turn toward self-awareness. The film ends where it begins; there is no character arc, there is no closure. Even if you hate every minute of it, this movie will stick with you as a cautionary tale of what can happen if you refuse to grow up. There is no Neverland.