I still like Jason Reitman’s first film, Thank You For Smoking, the best, but the young director has already assembled a string of (mostly) cynical and moderately edgy films by hitting the mark more often than he misses in Juno, Up In The Air, and now Young Adult.
Although it earned Diablo Cody an Oscar, one of the things I disliked about Juno was the arch dialogue. It took me out of the film. This time, as Reitman and Cody team up again in Young Adult, the dialogue is less obtrusive, but the film will likely make viewers more uncomfortable than Juno ever could.
Charlize Theron plays a newly-divorced fiction writer who returns to her small town in Minnesota intending to get back together with her high school boyfriend by breaking up his marriage even though he is a new father.
Some of the conventions of the film play off of standard romantic comedy fare, but this film is anything but conventional. Ultimately, as the viewer comes to see the main character not as she sees herself but from the pained perspective of others who know her better, the film turns increasingly dark and complex.
The result is a film that is painful but curiously satisfying because of the way it contrasts with commercial, Hollywood films.