Do you remember the girl that you hated in school? The one with the clone worshippers that liked her even though she was blatantly mean to everyone?
If you were like me, you probably spent your high school days fantasizing about what that girl was going to end up like in her late thirties. I’ll spare you the tasteless details of how I imagined my high school nemesis to turn out, but trust me, it was not pretty. I, on the other hand, imagined myself to be a sophisticated world traveler, educated, poised, wealthy. Always wearing heels and a dress from Anthropologie. Funny what we think will matter most.
This weekend I saw the movie Young Adult with Charlize Theron and was reminded of these teenaged fantasies. The movie was funny, dark, and unbearable at moments. I left hating it, even if it made me laugh. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was the moment that all underdogs wait for– the chance to see the villain suffer.
The irony to me, is that I wanted the villain to change, to grow, to improve and to become likeable. Instead of wanting to watch her fail, I desperately wanted to watch her change. The suffering was not rewarding, it was depressing. I realized that I would much rather discover that my nemesis had changed and become her friend. What a departure from my 17 year-old self!
I was also shocked to see little pieces of myself in her, remembering moments that I had been shallow or unkind in life and laughing uncomfortably at some of her adult tastes and habits, (umm, pretty sure I own the same pair of sunglasses, have a pomeranian, and have been known to glue myself to “reality” television). Granted, these moments paled in comparison to this villain, but there is a certain shame in seeing the villain in yourself, as well as a certain introspection in seeing the mirror reflected back at you.
It made me laugh how she so adamantly opposed the idea of a life in her home town, set on the idea that the city would make her happier, cooler, more important. Been there, done that, (and returned home again). It also made me think about how much my vision of adult life has changed from the age of 17 to now. I would have never fantasized about being an elementary school teacher, married, living in Sacramento. But, now, here am I, consciously embracing all of those things. Life is funny.
So, even though it was dark, a little over the top, and at times painful to watch, I change my review. I liked Young Adult. It made me think, a lot.