Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary, an author of an ending young adult book series. Mavis lives a pretty decent life in Minneapolis, she’s decently wealthy it seems and writing a decently popular book series. Problem is she lives her life with angst, she walks around with a chip on her shoulder. When she finds out her old high school boy friend, Buddy Slade, is having a baby, she decides to drive back to her home town and winning him back. Mavis is a drunk, lives like a frat boy, and just generally has issues but as we stay with her we get to see one of the best performances of the year.
Diablo Cody is a great writer, her name is well known now, online she gets a lot of hate. The character and Mavis Gary is complex and in ways very real. There are some non-reality factors here as well. Charlize Theron is stunning, yet her character lives life without a care. The woman shouldn’t look as good as she does. That is a minor complaint. Theron destroys this role, it’s so hard not to care for this woman even though she is nasty, drunk and generally not a great person. The more we get to see Mavis’s life though, the more we understand why she acts the way she does.
The best scenes involve Patton Oswalt who plays Matt Freehauf, a man who never left his high school town, who was beaten badly by “jocks” who though he was gay. He and Mavis connect in an odd way and it’s nice to watch. The friendship isn’t realistic but these two actors make it feel very real. Patrick Wilson plays Buddy Slade very well. We don’t actually see a lot in him, he just wants to be a good dad, he’s very basic, maybe that is why Mavis wants him back so badly. He’s what most people believe is real or happy. Cody’s writing is good but these actors really elevated everything here.
Jason Reitman has made some great films(Thank You For Smoking is a classic in my opinion). Here though, Reitman show his talent by balancing very dark depressing moments and mixing the comedy into it. Minus one or two moments the audience really never get a moment to root for Mavis, she’s frankly a bitch. Many might find this movie frustrating, because Mavis changes but not in ways we’ve seen in movies before. She doesn’t really learn any lesson or have some uber redeeming moment. To me it made this movie very different, which to me is a breath of fresh air. Kind of tired of films coming out where the leads drastically change either over love or something even smaller, here it’s more real.
If anything you should see this movie for Charlize Theron, this is her year, too bad she has heavy competition from brilliant performance from Michelle Williams and others. Any other year I’d say Theron was a shoe in nomination and winner for best actress. It’s hard not to enjoy every nasty moment Mavis has, because Theron is so good, and in the end no matter how nasty the character may be, we all love watching a good performance.