Directed by Jason Reitman
Written by Diablo Cody
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, and Patton Oswalt
Soon after her divorce, a fiction writer returns to her home in small-town Minnesota, looking to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend, who is now happily married and has a newborn daughter.
Left Hand Horror is dedicated to horror film reviews, but I often times watch off-genre movies that I avoid reviewing due to my horror parameter. I think most people love different genres, so I’m hoping the reviews I label as a [Fister Pick] will get the attention they deserve. Young Adult is my fist pick of this nature; it’s too good to not share, thus the [Fister Pick] is born.
Theron portrays Mavis, a recently divorced writer who’s trying to finish the last of her once popular young adult book series, Waverly. The series was cancelled, leaving Mavis even more vulnerable than usual when she hears the big news about her high school boyfriend, Buddy (Wilson). Here’s a lesson for everyone, kids: REMOVE YOUR EX FROM YOUR EMAIL CONTACTS. Mavis receives a birth announcement email from Buddy and his wife, complete with the fresh face of the new baby. This innocuous email sets a catastrophic series of events in motion.
I love movies that sends the protagonist back to their hometown. I just went back last year to see a dear friend for the first time in nearly 20 years. It was amazing how we just fell right back into place like we never missed a step over the last two decades. Home provides a certain realism that grounds whoever we are at the time of our visit. How much have you changed over the last twenty years? Mavis loads up her car and hits the road from Minneapolis to Mercury, MN. The opening credits show a variety of cassette deck close-ups, zooming in on the inner mechanisms each time Mavis rewinds her high school mix tape. I was already sold by the time these creative titles started, but this is another reason I loved this film. Reitman and Cody were pleasantly synched.
Back home she runs into Matt (Oswalt) who she finally remembers as the “guy from the hate crime”. Matt was mistaken as gay in high school, causing a group of jocks to literally shatter his leg, bash his brains in, and…break his dick before leaving him for dead. Matt shares how frustrating it is to pee and ejaculate sideways. Poor guy. Her first interaction with Matt takes place at a bar, confirming that Mavis is probably an alcoholic; she downs bourbon like iced tea. She lies about why she’s back home before ultimately admitting her plans to Matt. She “knows” her four years with Buddy back in the 90’s cemented them as soul mates, and he’ll obviously reciprocate when they’re reunited. What transpires over the next 90 minutes is uncomfortable to say the least.
Theron owns this movie, showcasing her Mean Girl’s Plastics approach to life. Racked with emotional torment,Theron delivers an impeccable performance as an emotionally fragile woman struggling for happiness. Matt serves as the moral compass, warning her that Buddy’s life is where it needs to be. The relationship that develops between Mavis and Matt helped move this film into a must-see for me. There’s a charm to the backdrop of a hometown atmosphere, full of history and unfulfilled lives after the glamor of prom has faded. This is available on Netflix for instant viewing – it’s a great choice for your holiday break, sure to bring some magic back to the ‘ol home town Christmas break.