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'Young Adult' worth a look

You can't go home again. That's the underlying theme of a very good film called "Young Adult," starring Oscar winner Charlize Theron. It is now available on DVD.

Theron plays Mavis Gary, a writer of children's books in her mid-thirties. Mavis, single and living in Minneapolis, returns to her small hometown in Minnesota to try to rekindle a romance with her high school boyfriend, Buddy Slade, played by Patrick Wilson. He is now married and has a baby.

Along the way, Mavis will realize the obvious. It's not that easy to go back. She checks into a hotel and starts to pursue Buddy.

While there, she'll befriend the class nerd, Matt Freehauf, played with class and humor by Patton Oswalt. Did I forget to say Mavis can't avoid her dad and mom? Mom is nicely played by Jill Eikenberry.

Mavis meets Buddy a couple of times and thinks she can bring back the past. He is flattered, and sort of understands what's going on, but inside knows he'll turn her down.

What makes "Young Adult" so good is its unpleasant yet realistic approach to the story. Mavis is torn between her empty, unmarried, childless existence in the big city and what her life could be in a small town with a family.

She looks at the small town landscape with doubt as she eats in a KFC or passes a Staples. You realize she's thinking why she did leave in the first place - to escape small town blues.

Yet Mavis yearns for a settled life in her hometown. The gray landscape doesn't make things easier. This is not Los Angeles. In the grass-is-always-greener department, Matt's sister begs Mavis to take her to the big city. She envies her life.

The performances are wonderful. They are all honest and compelling and make it so easy to identify with, and root for, each person. Some of the characters are pathetic and strong at the same time.

Life is full of choices, and "Young Adult" shows perfectly how they affect our lives. Or is it all just meant to be?

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