Young Adult [2011]

Screenwriter Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman are at their best when they work together. Proof: 2007’s Juno, a near-perfect little indie and one of the films that defined my adolescence. Teaming up again after four years and a couple of missteps (on her part, of course; Cody’s Jennifer’s Body was a disaster while Reitman’s Up in the Air was another winner), they deliver again with Young Adult, a dark comedy with an anti-heroine you’ll love to hate. Mavis Gary is a huge, complex character and Charlize Theron tackles her with aplomb. Her portrayal of the beyond unlikeable author is stunning. Gary says whatever pops into her head and does whatever she pleases, without an ounce of respect for herself or others, unaware of the concept of boundaries. It’s a riveting performance, and one of the best of 2011. No matter how uncomfortable Mavis makes things, you cannot look away, alternately empathizing and pitying her. Theron’s acting talent complements Cody’s rich creation and vice versa; it’s their show. The support they get from the men in this film (Cody from Jason Reitman and Theron from Patton Oswalt) makes this one of the best motion pictures of the past year.