'Young Adult': Is it wrong to relate to Charlize Theron's horrible character?

Phillip V. Caruso

So, I loooooved Jason Reitman’s Young Adult, which opened wide this weekend. Charlize Theron gave the performance of her career and the fantastically bleak script by Diablo Cody may even be better than her work on Juno. More so, I relished seeing such a complicated character study. There’s no redemption for Theron’s young adult author Mavis Gary. She doesn’t turn a corner or have the standard movie-plot revelation that she’s a truly vile human being and must change her ways. For me, that was an awesomely brave twist.

But as I walked out of the theater, the lingering thought in my head was, “Wow. That character was a real beast… and I kinda relate to her!” To be clear, I have never tried to steal a former boyfriend from his wife and newborn child. But, like Mavis, I am a writer who grew up in a small Midwestern town now living in a major city. There have been Saturday mornings where I have spent countless hours laying on my couch, watching horrible reality television. Probably the biggest connection is that I am somewhat of a — How shall I say this? — acerbic fella. More to the point, I can be a bitch. I am definitely judgmental and often purse my lips in evaluation. After years of being a New Yorker, overt and aggressive friendliness, like chirpy Starbucks employees and helpful neighbors, make me immediately suspicious. So, to me, Mavis felt less like a villain and more like someone I would probably know… and likely be friends with. I don’t think I’m the only person who feels this way. In fact, I saw the movie with three other New Yorkers (who shall remain anonymous), two of whom also definitely connected with Mavis. There must be more of you out there! It’s okay. Don’t feel ashamed. Now, slump back on your couch and grab the two-liter of Diet Coke because there’s a Kourtney & Kim Take New York marathon on.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @EWTimStack

Read more:
‘Young Adult’ review
‘Young Adult’ and the misery of 90’s nostalgia
‘Young Adult’ opens in cities today. But how will it fare in the ‘burbs?

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