Director: Jason Reitman
Cast: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson
Struggling to maintain her ghost-writing contract for a young adult fiction series, and recovering from a divorce, former prom queen Mavis travels from Minneapolis to her small-town roots, determining to pick up with her high school sweetheart, now a married man with homely wife and mewling infant.
As a portrait of a character losing touch with reality this almost recalls Requiem for a Dream in its sadness, except that Reitman ensures it remains acerbically humorous, notably through the articulate but bitter Oswalt character. Theron carries it brilliantly, whether getting horribly drunk and self-piteous or staring down the receptionist at her hotel as she does her old prom queen thing. As a meditation on what it takes to grow up, the film is thought-provoking, just as it accepts that there are no easy answers and that our nature and our looks, both God-given, probably decide a lot for us.