Shirah Vollmer MD

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Archive for January 2nd, 2012

‘Young Adult:’ 2/3rd Interesting-1/3rd Flop

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on January 2, 2012

Young Adult Movie Poster

    What happens when the most envied teenager grows up and moves on to the “big city” they call “Minnie Apple” (Minneapolis)? The movie begins with an excellent portrayal of a thirty-something, single woman. who struggles with finding meaning in her life. She has a dog, which serves as the portable love object, which she hardly seems to be passionate about. In fact, passion is what she searches, without the internal tools to know what she is looking for. Alcohol serves as her co-lead, and in that relationship, the movie tells a story of hardship and pain despite beauty and talent. As the search for meaning begins, the movie creates a sense of compassion for Mavis, despite the fact that people like Mavis often bring up feelings of envy and inferiority. The layers of meaning in life are challenged, as the mundane aspects of small town life are contrasted with the “excitement” of the big city. At the same time, there is a struggle against emptiness which Mavis fights with, making the more traditional life begin to seem more appealing. Mavis also has issues with her parents, which the movie only hints at, but we are left to believe that she was undernourished. 

  With all of this, the movie had potential, but somehow in the last twenty minutes, it felt to me that the writers were under a deadline and so they had to finish it quickly, without the time for depth of thought or, perhaps, a few more re-writes.  That’s too bad, since this “coming of middle-age” movie is a wonderful genre. It is exciting to see longitudinal outcomes of imaginary characters. We secretly, or maybe not so secretly want, those who we envied in high school, to go through hard times, but then we want them to rise again. Like all idealized objects, we wish and fear for them to fall, so that we may feel better and worse about ourselves at the same time. We feel better, given our insecurities of youth, such that we thrive on the defeat of others whom we perceive to “have it all.” Yet, when these envied people do fall, we feel guilty for wishing that upon them, so then we hope they rise from the ashes. “Young Adult” demonstrated this trajectory so well. It is unfortunate that the  path descended so rapidly.

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