Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Comedy, Drama
  • 2011

Young Adult

Film4 Young Adult


Successful teen author Mavis (Charlize Theron) returns to the small town she grew up in an attempt to win back her high school sweetheart. His wife and child are viewed as no real obstacle


Remember that girl at school that all the girls hated but also wanted to be? No, not that one - she now has nine children and a husband that cheats on her; it's called karma. No, this is the queen bee who actually made it - the bitchy prom queen who managed to make a living being a bitchy prom queen in real life. In this case, that's through the medium of writing Young Adult novels where the perfect heroine always gets the guy despite everybody plotting against her because they're so jealous of how perfect she is.

The author of these novels is Mavis, a career standout role for Charlize Theron. Uglying up for Monster (for which she won Best Actress at the 2003 Oscars) may have captured more column inches, but it's this portrayal of a woman so good at being a narcissistic teenager that's she's basically never grown up that really shows how subtle and smart she is as a performer. If Mavis doesn't sound like a very likeable character, that's because she isn't. And that's what makes the film (unlike its protagonist) a mature film. It's so rare that women get to play fully rounded, three dimensional, flawed human beings, that's it's almost kind of unsettling to realise that's what's going on here.

Director Jason Reitman specialises in these types of characters. Think of George Clooney's initially soulless character in Up In The Air or Aaron Eckhart's nihilistic pro-tobacco lobbyist in Thank You For Smoking. They're stunted, while thinking they have their lives pretty sorted. Here's Reitman's reteaming with Diablo Cody, who won an Oscar for the script that saw Reitman nominated for an Academy Award for directing: Juno. With all this awards potential floating around, it's odd that the acerbic, spiky Young Adult isn't getting more attention. Perhaps there isn't yet space at the Hollywood leading manchild convention for a woman as flawed, interesting and brilliantly performed as - say - male roles like Melvin from As Good As It Gets, Myles from Sideways or Matt from The Descendants. Mavis is their better manicured kindred spirit.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Patton Oswalt
  • Director: Jason Reitman
  • Writer: Diablo Cody
  • Photographer: Eric Steelberg
  • Composer: Rolfe Kent

In a nutshell

If you're fed up with candy floss films but in no mood to eat your Oscar oatmeal, try this: a sour gooseberry sorbet of a movie. And we mean that as a compliment.

by Catherine Bray

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4


    Katell Quillévéré's family-based drama follows Suzanne, a teenage mother who falls for a gangster

  • Film4

    The Purge

    Ethan Hawke stars in James DeMonaco's drama about a sanctioned night where all crime is legal

  • Channel 4 Blog

    BIFA brings 2015 nominated films to cinemas

    BIFA-nominated films including the Film4-backed 45 Years, The Lobster, Macbeth, Amy and Ex Machina will be available in cinemas nationwide from 23 November in a special public screenings event. The

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4-backed films receive 41 nominations at the BIFAs

    Film4 has received a total of 41 nominations for the films it has backed at this year¿s British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs), with the nomination lists for the Best British Film and Best Director a

Register with

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register