Gorgeous but damaged, conceited yet self-loathing, Charlize Theron dares you to like her in "Young Adult" - and the movie itself dares you to stick with an anti-heroine who makes no apologies for her deplorable behavior. It's an exciting thing to see, this willful rejection of tidy character arcs and happy endings, and it actually makes you wish "Young Adult" had been even further fleshed out and gone on a little longer.
Rather than being mature and wise beyond her years, Theron's Mavis Gary is in a state of arrested development, emotionally stuck at the place where she peaked: high school. Where she was the prom queen, naturally. Theron continues to show her versatility, hurling herself headlong into this unhinged character. There are shadings of Nicole Kidman in "To Die For" here; she'll make you squirm, but she may make you feel a little sorry for her, too.
"Young Adult," a Paramount Pictures release, is rated R for language and some sexual content. Running time: 94 minutes. Three stars out of four.