If watching a movie is another way for us to read or figure out a story, a movie like Young Adult can lead us to reconsider our expectation in reading and our perception of humanity. Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) was once a prom queen when she was in high school. She is like those beautiful mean girls in young adult films but she experiences no setback caused by her meanness. Nor is she jilted by a handsome boyfriend because he falls for another girl with a kinder heart and less beautiful appearance. Her problem is that she does not mentally grow up after high school. The problem becomes apparent when she divorces her husband. She receives a postcard from her high school boyfriend Buddy (Patrick Wilson), who is now a father of a new-born baby. She projects her unhappiness to him and decides to save him from the trap of marriage and child raising. She believes this is the only way to make everything right. She reconnects with Buddy, misunderstands his kindness, and eventually embarrasses herself. At the end of the movie, she leaves the town where she and Buddy grew up and drives her messy car away. The story leaves Mavis’s problem unresolved: it does not give any hint for self-discovery or change in perception and action. Without the fulfillment, enlightenment, or catharsis that other films tend to offer to their audience, Young Adult is very honest in an annoying way. As we are used to and aspiring to the changes in flawed characters in the fictional world, the persistence of a character’s weakness or ignorance may remind us of the persistence of our personal weakness and ignorance. And that can be a really depressing revelation to us.
Therefore, I think this is why we admire those who can recognize their weakness and are willing to change themselves. They may not succeed at once and may not fully succeed after a few times of trying, but their every effort takes them farther than where they start. The truth of humanity can be ugly, but we can choose our way to deal with it. Things can be different if we are willing to change–only if you believe it.