British director Steve McQueen and Irish actor Michael Fassbender team up again, but this time to not such great results. Fassbender is still an incredible cinematic force. What he does with the one-dimensional character given to him is quite astounding, and one of the few things that merits a viewing of the film. He is a corporate man with a beautiful New York City apartment and an addiction to sex with strangers. He likes to watch a lot of porn and, while women seem to fall for him everywhere (who wouldn't), goes to prostitutes on a regular basis. There are some difficult scenes to watch in terms of excessive sexual graphics; but Fassbender manages to at every moment convey the simultaneous despair and pleasure of his character.
Carey Mulligan is also in the picture, playing his depressive sister who pays him a surprise - and unwanted - visit. Their scenes together are very strong - they share great chemistry and both play out the relationship perfectly.
McQueen's style doesn't lend itself to this material. It was absolutely riveting in his debut Hunger, but gets lost in wandering triviality in this film. The tone is consistently serious, oscillating very little between opposites and with what seems to be a pointless trajectory. In the end, we get a dead body and lots of the sex we already know he's having. But there is little to be made of the tragic components together as a cohesive story.
I especially like McQueen's long takes, and there are some little treasures to be had here. Fassbender achieves a nice level of sexual and romantic chemistry with his sole "love" interest, a woman from his office. The two share a fancy dinner and short walk to the train station– two nicely acted, interesting scenes. It's worth a watch, but doesn't offer a rewarding experience.
See it for Mr. Fassbender. And if you're a Mulligan fan, this is the best I've seen her yet.
A cruel comedy, Jason Reitman's Young Adult is a study of an impossible woman, Mavis Gary, who returns to her hometown in a state of depression to win over her high school sweetheart - who is now happily married with a newborn child.
There is nothing to like about this person, other than that she is being played by the lovely and talented Charlize Theron, who runs with the role, however painful or unrealistic. This is not a "character" but a function - someone to make mean jokes, create awkward situations, and be picked on while comically picking on others. If Theron herself weren't such a magnetic presence, the film would fall completely flat. Instead it just kind of drifts from scene to scene, predictably spiraling to her having sex with the town cripple, Matt (Patton Oswalt), who is just as cynical and unlikable as she is. He's a "loser" and she was the prom queen - but years after such denominations, they're on equal footing and she finds herself in his bed. This sounds more like the dorky Star Wars obsessive's fantasy than it does any realistic or telling story about a woman who has lost her way.
It's not a particularly original or interesting story, nor is it told in any enlightening way. Theron embraces her character, as we eventually learn to do in order to get through the movie. It's enjoyable on some strange level of finding "mean" to be funny. The "human" elements interspersed, such as when Theron says "Hide me," to Matt before they make love, feel weightless and pure plot-filler. Patrick Wilson plays her ex-boyfriend and current-crush, and he adds nothing new to such a character profile.There are no other notable characters.
There are funny lines and there's a good performance. And not much else.