This could have been such a hilarious, relatable movie. And it is, in the beginning. There are so many things that I should be able to identify with. Charlize Theron’s character, Mavis Gary is a single woman in her late 30s who loves to drink whiskey, with a stunted career and suffering creative block, hiding from obligation and expectation, with a slight obsession with matters personal and social. As the film begins, you can find the humor in her failures. One of my favorite visuals from the film was watching her painfully stumble in a hungover daze from the bed to the fridge to guzzle from a 2 Liter bottle of Diet Coke. I’ve been there.
Then you realize she is certifiably batshit insane and a serious alcoholic, and the film quickly plummets from being hilarious and relatable to really, really depressing and uncomfortable. And it’s supposed to be depressing and uncomfortable. At least that is my takeaway.
It is very difficult to enjoy a movie centered around such an unsympathetic character. Especially since she does not seem to experience any significant growth or redemption. Still, I am glad I saw it. I think Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman know how to make a good movie. Its been six days since I watched it, and I am still thinking about it. I found the real reward of the film to be in the details. The aforementioned Diet Coke, her Hello Kitty t-shirt, her dressing rituals, her slovenly Minneapolis apartment and her childhood bedroom at her parents’ house. These subtle details help make up the whole of the character. But, like I said, Mavis Gary is a deplorable character, and no amount of depth or detail could really vindicate her in my eyes. The prevailing lesson we learn from this movie, as far as I can tell, is “Bitches be Bitches”.
It is also worth mentioning that the performances were great. Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt play off each other well. The soundtrack is also wonderful, full of early to mid-90s college radio staples. The Lemonheads, Veruca Salt, and of course Teenage Fanclub.
I would recommend watching this, but I would advise to proceed with caution. If your constitution can handle extreme discomfort, then it is worth watching. And now, if you don’t mind, I am going back to high school to stalk Keanu Reeves.