The Grey introduces us to Ottway (Liam Neeson), a deeply broken and solitary man haunted by a past love. After boarding a plane to take him and his fellow co-workers out of Alaska, the plane experiences severe turbulence and rapidly crashes in the middle of nowhere. With only seven survivors, Ottway and these other men try to figure out what to do and how to survive the wildly unapologetic and raging freezing weather. To make matters worst, they appear to have crossed a wolf pack’s den and are hunted by such a pack on a daily basis.
Living in Canada and knowing firsthand how difficult and torturous snow can be, I’ve always had a problem by the way snow in films seems to always be portrayed as this powder material that only fools those who haven’t seen snow. The Grey is the first film that adequately portrays snow as the raging motherfucking ice cold bitch that it is. Director Joe Carnahan shot many of the scenes in the actual snow-filled environment and that truthfulness to how things really are enhances the realism in the film. You see the characters stumbling to walk through the thick snow, and their bodies react to the cold as they tremble and their skin gets red. The film turns this gruelling environment into its own character, and in a way the real villain of The Grey is nature itself.
Carnahan also manages to make the wolfs into a real threat. From that very first wolf attack you as the audience feel a palpable fear that is further enhanced by the characters’ fear and the way the wolfs’ howls are constantly heard. The wolfs don’t feel at any point cartoonish or simply there to create drama, instead we understand that the wolfs are part of this environment and that it is the humans who are invading it. The wolfs aren’t completely CGI as I feared before watching the film. Carnahan mixes practical effects with actual shots of wolfs and then some CGI of course. The only time when the CGI becomes incredibly noticeable is during a scene that takes place on a cliff, in which you can tell that it’s a green screen but it doesn’t take away much from the overall realism of the film.
I’ve been a fan of Joe Carnahan since he did Smokin’ Aces and while his films have never particularly shown a real handle on character development and genuine human interactions (see A-Team for the worst offenders), he does have a keen eye for establishing action scenes. The Grey is no exception as the action scenes are spectacular but in a totally realistic way. This film doesn’t use action just for the sake of it, the action scenes are spread throughout, succeed in feeling true to these men’s circumstances and are extremely intense. The Grey will scare the hell out of you in a variety of ways and most of the time you will never see them coming.
With The Grey Joe Carnahan has finally come to his own, as this is above all else a deeply human story. Character development and interactions take precedence over the rest, and it is great to see how much he makes us care about each of the characters. Even the ones that we didn’t know or the ones we didn’t particularly liked, when someone dies it resonates with the audience and with the survivors themselves. Each actor gives a great performance and is able to eloquently express that sense of hopelessness, desperation, tragedy, glimmer of hope, serenity and so forth. The dialogue is very effective and with little reveals a lot about these characters.
Liam Neeson is, of course, the draw of this film and he delivers one of his finest performances to date. In this latter section of his career, Neeson has reinvented himself as this total badass man with a specific set of skills and while all those elements are present in The Grey, his character is so much more. As I said before, Ottway is a broken man who internalizes all of his problems and traumas and Neeson conveys those tragic emotions so beautifully that even with a look he’ll make you tear up. There is a scene near the end in which he looks up to sky and screams for God, who he doesn’t believe exists, to help him get through this and as expected there’s no response. That scene is heart-breaking to the highest degree and perfectly sums both his performance and the nature of the film itself.
The Grey is the first really brilliant and outstanding film of 2012 I’ve seen. This isn’t like Neeson’s other badass films, instead The Grey tells an emotional and humanistic story of man vs nature. Director Joe Carnahan has deliver his finest and most mature film to date, and he must be applauded for creating such a palpable sense of tension and adequately portraying the hardships of snow. The Grey is an adrenaline rush that somehow still manages to provide us with genuine human moments that allow us to connect with the characters. As the film demonstrates, nature is an unapologetic and threatening force without God. There’s only you, your will to survive and the forces that will challenge that at every turn.
When I first heard Lana Del Rey I was impressed. She has a beautiful voice but it needed something extra. Fast forward a few months and now she apparently is the next big thing. Either way, I wasn’t sold on her until I heard her album and I have to admit she is pretty amazing. Born To Die is definitely the fist album of 2012 I can see myself obsessing over.
It is no secret that the Oscars get more things wrong than right, that they are driven towards easily accessible and emotionally clear performances. Yes, every year a dark and challenging performance will sneak in and be recognized but let’s not kid ourselves, when those performances sneak it is either because a young beautiful actress is headlining them (i.e. Rooney Mara and Natalie Portman) or the performance is just too good to be ignored (i.e. Mo’Nique). I’ll never understand their need for reassuring and friendly performances, because while some of them are great I believe that the really challenging ones are even greater. 2011 gave us a slew of challenging performance that made us depressed and euphoric, but more importantly they revealed something personal and interesting about the human condition.
Here are, in my opinion, the best performances of 2011 that must never be forgotten.
7. Albert Brooks in Drive.
If some films didn’t have villains their greatness would be in serious jeopardy. The Oscars rarely recognize villainous roles and unless the performance is too big, they will ignore it. 2011 had some amazing villains, but the one that took the top prize alongside Tom Hiddleston’s Loki was Albert Brook’s Bernie Rose. Picture Drive without Brooks? Be honest, the film would not be as good. Brooks was absolutely fantastic as Bernie Rose and he milked that character for all it’s worth. That performance is menacing, fun, smooth, challenging, unpredictable, exciting and so much more all at the same time. He is the perfect opposite to Gosling’s quiet Driver and it is downright criminal to ignore such a scene stealing performance.
6. Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
The debate about whether motion capture is real acting or not, is in my humble opinion absolutely pointless and redundant. Motion capture is real acting and Serkis has proven it time and time again. He made Gollum into a flawed villains we all loved to hate, he made King Kong into a emotional and engaging character and with Ceaser he reaches an all-time high. The reason why this film works so well is because of Andy Serkis. Serkis brings such a depth and emotion to Ceaser that every time he’s on screen we are instantly drawn to him, he made us care about the apes and cheer as they destroyed the stoic and cruel humans. With that mind, also consider the physicality of his performance and how Serkis is the one running around and become a full flesh ape. Watch the behind the scenes feature of the film and tell me that isn’t acting, tell me that what he does isn’t more challenging than what any of the other nominees this year did. Serkis performance showcases the future and while motion capture will not obliterate normal acting, we should start recognizing its prevailing power.
5. Charlize Theron in Young Adult.
As I’ve said before, Theron’s performance as the very unlikable and cruel Mavis is a polarizing performance that reveals a lot about people. In an actress roundtable, Theron expressed how she preferred for people to empathize with her performance/character than to reject it or feel sorry for her. A lot of people seemed to have opted for the latter reactions, while a few others chose the former. The truth is that there are people in this world like Mavis and our immediate reaction would be to punch them in the face, but once one attempts to understand why they are the way they are one can now see things differently. Those people that enjoyed and praised Theron’s performance are those who empathized with her, because once you understand the character the greatness of her performance becomes clear. Theron nails everything in that performance from her intimidating “no fucks given” glares to those moments when you see how vulnerable and wounded Mavis is. Is it her best performance? It doesn’t matter, what matters is that she does something different and asks to see things from the perspective of the a type of person most us hate.
4. Kristen Dunst in Melancholia.
It is unfortunate that Lars von Trier pretty much shot Melancholia in the face with all those Nazi jokes, because this film and especially this performance by Kristen Dunst are career highs for both of them. I have never seen depression portrayed in such a devastating and hard to understand way. Dunst gets down to the core of it and to see her downward spiral is both heart-breaking and beautifully impressive. The numbness that her character feels is expressed by her body language and how it seems like something is pressing over her body at all times. Some people didn’t like her character and said she was just crazy, but I’d like to punch this people in the face and then tell them how closed minded they are being. Jus like Melancholia, Dunst performance is one that must be watched multiple times in order to discover all the layers present. If one felt the impending death of Earth just like Dunst’s Kristin does, one would understand why she does and acts the way she does. It’s a beautiful, thoughtful and provocative from an equally marvellous film that genuinely deserved recognition.
3. Tilda Swinton in We Need To Talk About Kevin.
Swinton is a chameleon and she has made her mark for delivering very challenging, dark, dynamic and difficult performances. In here she reaches a new high and I presume the main reason why a lot of people didn’t seem to like her was because her performance revealed something about parenting that no one wants to acknowledge. One thing is to be a parent and not be fit for it, but an entirely different thing is to be a parent and not want to be one. Swinton’s Eva is a mother who even though tried to care for her son, ends up really despising him for all the horror and pain he constantly inflicts on her. It’s understandable why Eva would show such animosity towards Kevin, but at the end of the day the film also shows that Eva still loves her son and is in fact the only person in the world who will stand by him. Swinton’s performance is devastating and downright depressing, but that alongside the fact that it shines a mixed light on parenting is what makes it so great and memorable.
2. Michael Shannon in Take Shelter.
Take Shelter is easily one of the least seen films of 2011, but anyone who has seen it can tell you how absolutely majestic Shannon is. Shannon, who is known for his menacing presence and bombastic outrages, delivers a subdued performance that is extremely tender and beautifully engaging. His character is by far the most relatable one in this list, as most people can see why a a married father barely making ends meet will attempt to hide and fix by himself his ever increasing paranoia which once revealed will destroy everything he holds dear. Much like the film, his performance palpably builds up tension until it explodes in the dinner scene that is for me one of the most powerful moments in cinema I’ve seen in a very long time. This is Shannon’s best performance to date and urge everyone to go watch Take Shelter by any means necessary.
1. Ryan Gosling in Drive.
After seeing Drive, a lot of people expressed that Gosling didn’t do much in the film and that his performance was effective but nothing special. I strongly disagree with such a claim, as I believe his performance here is the best he has delivered but I understand why would people say that. Gosling’s Driver is an enigma, we don’t know about his family, his upbringing or where exactly he comes from. He also internalizes practically everything, which is why when he reaches his breaking point the acts of violence are brutal and shocking. This is a performance that relies solemnly on body language and one sit yourself and carefully examine him, you start to see the beautiful subtleties in his performance. This character is in fact highly vulnerable and Gosling’s face is actively repressing that vulnerability, but once in a while it surfaces. Gosling does more by saying nothing than most actors around can and the more you watch the film the more you discover.
And that’s it! I know I didn’t include Michael Fassbender for Shame, but we all know he has been ignored and I thought it would be best to turn this subject towards other more criminally ignored performances.
I never know what the protocol is for fan mail, but anyway thanks! I loved the show and from now on I am going to introduce as many people as I can to it. The few I’ve talked think it’s too geeky for their taste, but I’m sure if play the “it’s like The West Wing in space with religion” card most people will at least be open to watch the first season. And I can’t imagine anyone watching the season 1 finale and not wanting for more.
The score of Battlestar Galactica is by far one of the best scores I’ve ever heard. It is unique, dynamic, beautiful and manages to perfectly fit any mood or moment. With each season it grew and become something that is as iconic as the show itself. Pure brilliance.
A First Impressions Anecdote of: A Dangerous Method.
Even though I’ve seen most of David Cronenberg’s films, it wasn’t until he joined forces with Viggo Mortensen for A History of Violence that I became a genuine fan of Cronenberg. With that film he stepped away from his grotesque and horrific motifs towards much more grounded material drenched in violence and a bit of sex. With Eastern Promises he completely blew me away and delivered not only one my favourite films, but aided Viggo Mortensen in becoming by far one of the most distinctive and brilliant actors. Teaming up again with Mortensen, Cronenberg has deliver A Dangerous Method which is unlike anything he has done before.
A Dangerous Method chronicles the friendship between two philosophers who gave birth to psychoanalysis: Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). The key factor that brought these two brilliant minds together was a russian woman named Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), who also was able to improve Jung’s research and more importantly impact his life in a deeply personal manner.
If there is one factor working in favour of A Dangerous Method is Keira Knightley’s performance. In the first half of the film her character is manic, unpredictable, disturbed and displaying raging signs of deep psychosis. I read an interview in which Knightley described the process of developing this character and this performance, and she talked about studying the various physical contractions and tics people suffering from similar traumas displayed. Her research really paid off as she deliver a performance unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Knightley goes full out crazy in this film to the point where she’s both disgusting and frightening. From the accent to her gaze to her body language, she is able to erase any notion of her star persona and deliver an intricate and career high performance.
However, once the character goes through the treatment and becomes sane the film loses it’s spark. Up until that point it was her performance that made things interesting and exciting, but once her character reaches sanity and is subdued like the other characters it all becomes increasingly difficult to watch. This isn’t because what happens is disturbing or anything of that sort, but everything reaches a state of stasis and the dullness factor that was creeping in from the beginning overpowers the film. One of the aspects that hurts the film is the way it jumps in time fairly rapidly and you can’t help but feel that it is trying way too hard to cover a lot of ground. As a result things feel disjointed and just as something intriguing was about to happen the film jumps two years ahead.
For a film that features such prominent minds you would expect things to be interesting throughout but unfortunately that isn’t the case. There are some interesting ideas present in the film and some of the conversations these people have are thoughtful and present things from a different perspective. But things feel too stoic and I don’t think there’s really a plot, I just felt like things weren’t going anywhere. Part of the blame must be placed on Cronenberg whose direction is effective, but doesn’t do anything to elevate the characters or stories or even the visuals. You can tell that this is a direction primarily servicing story, but when there’s no story it all feels pointless and uninteresting. I’m sure people who are more familiar with these people will like it but even I, who is somewhat familiar with Freud’s work, found the film dull so I can only imagine how bored an unfamiliar viewer might feel.
Another part of the blame must also be placed on Michael Fassbender who downright disappoints in this film. He is by far the weakest link which truly sucks since he is the lead and we are suppose to care about him. His performance is effective but there is nothing remarkable, special or remotely interesting in it. Fassbender is just there to drive the “story” forward and is very easily overshadowed by everything else around him. Vincent Cassel and Viggo Mortensen both give fine performances, but they have little screen time and aren’t as good as they probably should’ve been.
With A Dangerous Method, Cronenberg is touching new ground in the sense that instead of presenting sexuality through graphic acts or imagery, he is taken a much more philosophical approach. This approach, which on paper sounds very interesting proves to be dull and completely unmemorable. All the performances except for Knightley’s are effective and do not deliver anything special or engaging. The strength of the film is Knightley’s out there performance that once it is stripped from its flashy lunacy joins in the dullness and stasis of everything around her. In terms of Cronenberg’s filmography I have to say that A Dangerous Method is by far his weakest film to date, which is really disappointing considering the brilliant streak of films he was riding on.
*Chuckles* Welcome to BSG fandom, my friend. Welcome. ;) You want to know something really funny about how those folks where selected - or at least Tigh, I'm not 100% sure on all of them... they had an internet poll back in the day asking "who do you think is a cylon?" and Tigh finished DEAD LAST. Which is the reason they selected him, specifically, if not all of them to be one. Seriously. ;)
That’s so fucking cool. I still can’t believe that reveal about Tigh, I honestly never saw it coming.
That’s one of the reasons it kind of sucks to get hooked on a show that is no longer in the air, you miss all the fandom stuff and interactions that were happening with the creators of the show. But either way, I’m loving BSG and I can’t wait to start season 4.
This is the first year the Oscars have royally pissed me off with the amount of quality films and performances they snubbed. No Michael Fassbender, no Drive, no Albert Brooks, no Tilda Swinton, no Charlize Theron, no Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross…
And all for what? To give the most overrated garbage to ever grace the screen (I’m talking about War Horse) multiple nominates?! C’mon, that’s just embarrassing especially with Extremely Boring & Incredibly Bullshit also getting Best Pic.
But the worse offence of them all is the double nomination for John “Let Me Shove All These Hollow Emotions Down Your Throat Till You Die” Williams. Are you fucking kidding me? This is the kind of starfucker shit move the Golden Globes pull. I can name you at least 5 more scores that are infinitely more deserving of a nomination.
I’m glad Rooney Mara got in (although I feel that was a pity nomination considering how snubbed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was) and so glad Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was recognized. In an ideal world, Gary Oldman would win the Oscar but judging from the rest of the nominees you can expect all the happy-go-lucky shit to win.
This is truly going to be the most boring Oscar ceremonies in years. And Billy Crystal is hosting…
Besides being completely awesome from a visual standpoint, one of the many reasons why the main titles for Shameless is so great is because if this song. It’s just fits perfect with the whole show and it’s one of those rare main titles I enjoy watching a million times over.
A First Impressions Anecdote of: Underworld Awakening.
The Underworld franchise is in a lot ways similar to the Resident Evil films. There’s a beautiful and badass leading lady, the action is energetic and awesome, and overall you can safely call them mindless entertainment. However, the Underworld films have an edge over the Resident Evil films in that they recruit much better directors, more polish scripts, actors with calibre, the action is bloody and unrestrictive, and they feature two opposing mythical entities that in a way were born to fight against each other. I’ve loved the Underworld films expect for the prequel, because as much as I like Michael Sheen one of the main reasons why these films work is because of Kate Beckinsale and without her things aren’t the same. After the prequel barely made its budget back, the people in charged realized that they needed to revisit Benckinsale’s Selene and in so we have Underworld Awakening.
Taking place a few months after the events of Underworld: Evolution, the human raise has become aware of the vampires and lycans and start hunting each of them down all around the world. After being separated from Michael (Scott Speedman), Selene (Kate Beckinsale) has been captured and placed on hibernation by a pharmaceutical corporation named Antigent led by chief scientist Dr. Jacob Lane (Stephen Rea). 12 years later and Selene awakes from her slumber and now sees a world where the vampires and lycans are on the verge of extinction. In her search for other vampires, Selene discovers a little girl named Eve (India Eisley) who may just be her daughter and befriends a human detective called Sebastian (Michael Ealy) who will aid her in bringing down Antigent and finding Michael.
If you are familiar with the Underworld films then you know exactly what to expect from Underworld Awakening. This film, which blatantly is the first of a possible trilogy, stays relatively close to the formula and overall style established in the first two films. Co-directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein don’t bring anything new to the series except for a keen eye on staging action scenes. With each new film the action gets considerably pumped up and this one is no exception, as each action set piece is exciting, bloody, badass, intense, epic and very memorable. The special effects have also been pumped up for this film and they lend themselves to create much more dynamic action scenes. It’s also good to note that Marlind and Stein managed to create a real sense of danger during the action scenes and while one knows that Selene won’t get killed, she got her ass kicked proficiently enough for her inevitable victory to feel much more rewarding.
I was really happy to see Kate Beckinsale back in this universe and taking into account how amazing she is here I’m going to go and say that Beckinsale is the best action actress right now. Forget Angelina Jolie and her measly human abilities, Beckinsale is the raging vampire bitch whose sole presence exudes enough intimidation and unnatural badassery that you can’t help but fall in love with her and cheer for her to kill everyone. The moment she puts on her long coat and starts walking in the night Beckinsale becomes the definition of badass and that’s pretty much how her performance is throughout the film. Let’s be honest here, the Selene character doesn’t need too much acting range and while Beckinsale does infuse enough emotion to the character, her main goal is to look cool and deliver on the action front which she does to total perfection.
The only aspect were Underworld Awakening falters a bit is in the script department. The plot is pretty thin and straight-forward much like in the other films, but while in the other films the plots felt more contained and belonging to the mythology established by these characters, in Underworld Awakening the plot is just way too generic and familiar especially if you’ve seen any action film. Then there’s the dialogue, which for the most part of is okay but there are a few lines that not even I can overlook. When a character is talking about corruption and says “this goes all the way to the top” you can’t help but roll your eyes and call bullshit. There a millions way you can say that and the fact that the writers settled for that line leads me to believe that they didn’t place too much effort or thought in dialogue. I imagine it doesn’t help that there were at least 6 people sharing writing duties and if we’ve learned anything from Green Lantern is that when more than five people write a script the results are a barely cohesive story and cliche dialogue.
However, the directors and Kate Beckinsale distract you enough so that those shortcomings don’t become unbearable. Moreover, not all of the dialogue is like that line previously mention and again, if you like the Underworld films there’s a huge chance you’re not watching this one for the thoughtful and meaningful dialogue. Underworld Awakening is a definite return to form for the franchise and with such a great pairing of directors and Beckinsale I have to admit that I’m really looking forward to the future sequels. This film is mindless action fun that delivers all the thrills and epically badass moments you never even knew you expected, and Beckinsale has established herself as the ultimate action leading actress. This dear ladies and gentlemen is a fucking vampire film done right.
Hi, do you mind critiquing "Martha Marcy May Marlene" film?
Yeah, sure :).
It’s a good film with great direction and great acting all around. There is a palpable sense of tension throughout and the sound/score helps a lot with that. Having said that, I hated every second of it. For me personally I just did not care in the slightest about the characters, especially Elizabeth Olsen. Her performance is brilliant and all, but I just found her character along with the ones in the farm to be very unlikable and unsympathetic. I felt that the film was trying to hard to remain ambiguous and the ending royally pissed me off. I was disappointed, but looking at it objectively I can see why a lot of people enjoyed it.
As most of us are aware by now, Justin Timberlake is profusely attempting to become a bonafide actor. While mostly everyone agrees that his performance in The Social Network was great, he’s had a much harder time persuading us with his lacklustre performances in his other films. In Bad Teacher he was the weakest link and almost self-handlendly brought down the film, in Friend With Benefits he was okay but was saved by his palpable chemistry with Mila Kunis, and In Time he attempts to prove he can do action to poor results.
In this universe, people stop aging after 25 years and time has become the currency. Living in the ghetto zone with his mother, Rachel (Olivia Wilde), Will (Justin Timberlake) is barely making ends meet until he encounters Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer), a man possessing over a century. After Will saves Henry from some thugs led by Fortis (Alex Pettyfer), Henry gives all his time to Will before committing suicide. Will escapes the ghetto zone and travels to the rich zone where he befriends Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) and together they attempt to redistribute time all the while a time keeper named Raymond (Cillian Murphy) hunts them down.
On paper, In Time has all the elements to make a truly brilliant and even groundbreaking science-fiction film. There’s the cinematography by the always amazing Roger Deakins, writer/director Andrew Niccol’s has proven with Lord of War and Gattaca that he can deliver exciting and thoughtful films, and he has managed to assemble a remarkable cast of young, able and promising actors. It because of these great things that one feels even more disappointed by how poorly Niccol handles the film. It is astounding how generic and overly dull In Time is.
The acting is a mixed bag. Cillian Murphy, Matt Bomer, Olivia Wilde and Vincent Karthesier all give effective performances that certainly elevate everything around them. However, these great actors are horribly misused and undermined by their one-dimensional characters and very little screen time. In Time instead favours those less able actors such as Amanda Seyfried, Alex Pettyfer and Justin Timberlake. These three give utterly poor and hollow performances. Seyfried is too stoic and uninvolved, Pettyfer displays a terrible accent and his character is basically useless, but Timberlake is the one who should reside most of the fault.
Timberlake’s performance isn’t atrocious as some people expected, but it isn’t good either. He fails at assembling an interesting character not only because the script won’t allow it, but also because he simply doesn’t rise up to the occasion. A far more able leading actor would’ve at least made his very presence engaging and enjoyable, but Timberlake gives us none of that. He doesn’t have the chops to carry a film like this and his only purpose is to give us nice man to look at. There’s really no involvement between him and the audience, and as a result you don’t care about what happens to him within the opening 10 minutes.
A lot of the blame must also be placed on Andrew Niccol for ever thinking Justin Timberlake could handle this film. Now that ladies and gentlemen is horrible casting at its finest. Timberlake’s inability to deliver an engaging performance also says a lot about Niccol as a director and how little he must seem to care about acting in his films. At least David Fincher brought out a great performance from an otherwise inexperienced wannabe actor. Moreover, Niccol fails horribly in the script department. A premise as cool as this one could’ve been so much more, it had a lot of potential that Niccol was unable to realize. The dialogue and story are boring, generic and completely forgettable.
In Time is the perfect example of a film that even with all the great elements in play couldn’t amount to more than a merely lacklustre science-fcition summer film. It’s really disappointed to see something with such potential be squandered by a generic script, poor acting, bad decisions and a less than capable direction. There were only two moments in the film I enjoyed and the rest was just simply me lying to myself by thinking things couldn’t possibly get worse. For another Justin Timberlake led vehicle, In Time is easily one his worst outings and for Andrew Niccol it is a colossal failure.
In my opinion, Steven Soderbergh has never disappointed with a film. Even his lesser ones are much better than some of the best work by other directors. I haven’t seen Haywire yet but judging from its trailers and this awesome and energetic score, I’m fairly certain it will deliver the goods.
In Young Adult, Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) is in a rut, she has been recently divorced and find herself unable to finish the last book on her once popular young adult series. She attempts to drown her frustration and somewhat depressive demeanour with alcohol, but once she receives an e-mail of the newborn of her high school ex-boyfriend named Buddy Slade (Patrick Wilson) she formulates a plan to find happiness. She travels back to her hometown with the goal of rekindling her love and relationship with Buddy who is currently married and with a kid.
Unlikeable characters are always a tough sell, especially when such a character is none other than the protagonist. It has become evident that characters who display arrogance, selfishness and hurt others will be subjected to scorn and even dictate from the audience. Even if the films portray them as humanistic and provides for some kind of empathy to be achieved, there are still some people who would rather never spend another 2 hours with them, case in point: the people that disliked The Social Network because Mark Zuckerberg was too much of a betraying asshole. That is why I believe that your reactions to characters such as these reveals much more about the type of person you are.
Charlize Theron’s Mavis is a totally selfish and arrogant bitch. If you are not up to her standards she will insult you without reservations and call bullshit on your touchy feelings. However, Young Adult has succeeded at least in my opinion in adequately showcasing why this character is the way she is. I empathized with her, because even though she is an insane cunt there is a longing for happiness beneath that veil of distaste. She’s a flawed character who simply wants relive the best days of her life. Perhaps her way of doing that are cruel and socially unacceptable, but that’s the only way she knows how and it is until she crashes and burns that she finally grows up. It’s hard to empathize with her, but once you do the experience of watching Young Adult is much more fulfilling and interesting.
It would wrong to say that the greatness of this film is thanks to Charlize Theron. Her performance is brilliant and the way she glares at people is both intimidating and hilarious. It’s refreshing to see such careless and unapologetic character, and Theron is able to give her a depth that a lesser actress would’ve never achieved. But another reason why her performance works so well is because of Diablo Cody’s great screenplay and Jason Reitman’s direction. Cody proves yet again that she has unique knack with dialogue and with created incredibly awkward and hurtfully honest situations. Reitman also proves why he is so great, his direction is precise and is full on board on making you cringe at the various situations and presenting you with a different experience.
Young Adult is definitely not a film for everyone. For those who expected the happy-go-lucky and quirky character that Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman delivered in Juno they are going to be extremely disappointed. This film does not give a fuck about quirkiness or innocent character, instead it showcases a truly deposable character that mostly everyone seems to hate. Theron performance is perfect in conveying that sense of arrogance and down right cruelty. However, even with such dislikable traits this film is very humanistic and honest, and by far one of the most interesting things everyone involved has done in a while.