Let’s state the obvious and move on. Charlize Theron is a gifted actor and has an Oscar to prove it (“Monster”). She has physical attributes that most can only fantasize or dream about. So why take the role of “Mavis Gary”?
Who is “Mavis” ? She is a washed- up mediocre writer of young adult fiction; she is a dissipated alcoholic, perpetually hung over; she is a slob wallowing in moral turpitude; she experiences an epiphany and decides to save her bleak future by returning to the provincial town of her youth, reconnecting with her high school heart throb, “Buddy Slade” (dignified, quiet performance by Patrick Wilson) who is married with a baby daughter. Oh, and this desolate, depraved, delusionary, self-centered woman is 37 years old!
The obvious and predictable scenario is saved from total tedium by the performance of Patton Oswalt as “Matt Freehauf”; an overlooked , corpulant classmate who was beaten and almost killed by bullies, convinced that he was gay. He’s not, but his body and mind carry the scars delivered by his cruel, emotionally, intellectually retarded contemporaries. He is the foil, the conscience, the voice of reason striving to pave a path of sanity and salvation for the narcissist, tawdry, unbalanced Mavis. Why was she worth the effort? She is beautiful.
There are many Mavis Grays’ in the world. They were the high school beauties, prom queens, they are imbued, because of a stroke of genetic good fortune, with the “attention- entitlement- syndrome, AES” . The adulation, perpetually ubiquitous, in the halcyon school days, is expected to never cease; the mirror is always a reminder of “a thing of beauty”, all crave to view. But living intervenes; the mirror morphs from friend to foe; the disease, addiction, need for everlasting adoration becomes a pernicious cancer that destroys not only the face, but devours the soul as well.
Mavis is unlikeable, mean, miserable, a person so desperate for love but incapable of touching its depths; she is pathetic, poisonous, a hollow vacuum encased in glorious packaging. Charlize Theron gives a galvanizing performance as this worthless, facile “young adult”.
TWO &1/2 STARS!!