Kent Dempsey’s review:
I'd forgotten having heard that it's written by Diablo Cody (about whose work I have mixed feelings) and directed by Jason Reitman (whom I usually like; I loved 'Up In The Air', which is also what prompted Charlize Theron to pursue working with him), the team behind Juno (which I thought was irritating and overrated), but I much prefer this.
Theron is absolutely brilliant, in a role I wasn't expecting to give her the opportunity to be (I wasn't expecting as deep a film - again, I'd forgotten it had Cody and Reitman behind it).
Cody has crafted a fascinatingly complex character in Mavis, who's more or less still living in high school while everyone else has grown up. She's completely oblivious to the lives and feelings of others, invested entirely in her own desires.
An author of young adult fiction, depicting characters startlingly (and obviously intentionally) similar to herself, a series which has recently been wound up due to waning interest, Mavis receives an email from her old highschool flame Buddy Slade, now happily married, showing his newborn daughter.
Since 'babies are boring', Mavis decides to return from the big city, to her home town and get back together with Slade (they're meant to be together, obviously!), despite attempts by an old schoolmate she never knew existed, played subtly and warmly by Patton Oswalt, to convince her to grow up, wake up to reality, and move on.
Refreshing change from the typical Hollywood ideal of returning home to find everything comfy and familiar.
I don't know if black comedy is the right term, it's not laugh-out-loud funny by any means... it's funny and tragic at the same time. You're horrified by her behaviour but also feel for her. She doesn't deserve the kindness shown to her by Oswalt's Matt, but needs it more than anything. Charlize apparently said that after filming wrapped it felt like she'd been punched in the face repeatedly, and I can understand why; they weight of Mavis's baggage would be a heavy burden for any actor, and not many could pull it off - Theron does, and delivers a fantastic performance.