Friday, December 23, 2011
Loading Mercury With A Pitchfork -- A Review Of Young Adult
Young Adult, starring Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt, is the best movie I've seen in some time. Written by the fantastic Diablo Cody, Young Adult follows the ill-conceived plan of Mavis Gary to return to her hometown of Mercury, Minnesota to regain the love of her old high school flame shortly after receiving a birth announcement telegraphing his happy life with his wife and infant daughter. She's a ghost writer of young adult novels, a series about the most popular girl in school, but more importantly, she's a stunted alcoholic that spends her days in a hungover stupor and her nights in a haze. It's hard to make Charlize Theron ugly, but she manages to pull off the morning after many too many with just the right details -- guzzling Diet Coke, ignoring her tiny little dog, watching reality television. The movie makes no judgement on her lifestyle, but presents her as is, a lonely woman on the verge of forty who doesn't play nice with others or herself.
Upon her return to Mercury (she lives in Minneapolis, presented as the big glamorous city), she runs into an old high school acquaintance, Matt, who was the victim of a brutal beating in high school for his perceived homosexuality (he's not gay, hence the dying of interest in this hate crime) and recognizes her soul sickness as a fellow traveler in the margins. He serves as witness to her crash and burn in her pursuit of her old love and provides a soft landing spot for her pain. We see his acerbic kindness as she does -- an antidote to the brutality she inflicts. Unlike Matt, life hasn't forced her to live with her pain so she develops a massive addiction to anesthetize it. We end with Mavis finding no easy answers, no reform, no moment of hope. Instead, she finishes the final book in her series, a voiceover that gives a sense of a new beginning. But Mavis is twenty years out from high school. She's at a crossroads of her professional life, but without the hope of turnaround. But it's not bleak either -- she's been given a view of her past through various lenses (the most affirming to her is Matt's sister who glamorizes Mavis' life much like reality television gives a viewer a glimpse into the stars' "real lives") and allows her to leave feeling good. It's not what we or even she knows of her actual existence, but this pretty mirror gives Mavis the courage to continue, a great insight into the way life is right now -- if it looks good to others, it's fine. We need not worry about the actual in our virtual age. We know ourselves through how we appear to others, through a glass darkly, a dynamic Mavis knows a little too well.
Benedictions and Maledictions
Yes, Heff -- Hung is cancelled and I am weeping! I can't believe it. Why, oh why? (rending hair right now). Enlightened is still here, thank goodness, but why did they take away Ray and Tanya? Sadness. Sigh. Blah.