I’ve had this screenshot saved for a while but after watching Jason Reitman’s Young Adult again this passed weekend, I understand why it means so much to me. And now I’ll share my thoughts with you on this edition of Shots I Like For One Reason Or Another or SILFOROA.
So what we’ve got here is a scene that comes pretty late in the movie. If you haven’t seen it, there are spoilers ahead. I guess the picture itself is a spoiler but it’s not a big spoiler in the context of the film. This actually comes after the big scene that completely makes the movie if you ask me and I would never ruin that.
Anyway, here we have Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), the prototypical high school popular girl. Some might say she peaked in high school. The whole movie is about her trying to rekindle the spark she had with her high school sweet heart but here she is embracing Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt). Freehauf isn’t quite your average nerd. He’s not that guy who has secretly had a crush on the popular girl and now his dreams are coming true. We can go ahead and assume that he never liked Mavis. It’s not until now that they’re both around the corner from turning 40-years-old that these two drastically different people find some common ground. That ground happens to be cynicism, alcohol, and lifestyles dictated heavily by their pasts.
In this shot they’re both pretty exposed. Their nudity is symbolic of the walls that have been broken down in order to make this moment happen. Matt has some injuries that has made him a sexual outcast, and in a lot of circumstances, that makes you a complete social outcast. God knows the last time he’s been with a woman but you can bet that whenever it was, the level of intimacy didn’t come close to this moment. Mavis is coming to terms with her deep-seated personal issues. She’s more vulnerable than we’ve ever seen her and she’s come to Matt for comfort. He obliges, of course, because whatever connection they have when Mavis comes to town is real. While he’d likely be happy to be her friend and is overtly reluctant to increasing the intimacy, he has no reason to pass on this genuine opportunity. As he says just earlier in the scene, “guys like me are born loving women like you.”
They don’t fall in love. There is no “Happily ever after.” This is a passionate moment that kind of had to happen. That’s what I love so much about it.