Enthusing about the uncompromising ending to his black comedy “Young Adult,” director Jason Reitman recently told a crowd at the New Beverly Cinema it worked because “assholes don’t change like they normally do in the third acts of movies.”
Reflecting upon that sentiment later, Reitman expands the idea to include all of humanity, not just the jerks and jackasses of the world.
“Everyone has those eureka moments when they learn something about themselves or the world or they realize they should grow up and change … and then they don’t,” Reitman says. “Or they do, but it lasts only a week. Or it’s 5%. But the 180-degree turns people make all the time at the end of movies just don’t happen in life.”
In “Young Adult,” it’s Char-lize Theron’s desperate author who comes to question her life when she returns to home to pursue her high-school boyfriend. As written by Diablo Cody, who collaborated with Reitman on “Juno,” Theron’s character is often unlikable and may in fact be completely nuts.
“I really wanted to see if I could make an audience feel uncomfortable,” Reitman says. “What an interesting exercise as a director to try to hold the audience within the story, entertain them, make them laugh, do all the things that a movie normally does, but also try to make them increasingly uncomfortable to a point where they actually have to look in the mirror and ask, ‘Am I like this person?’
“You used to see that in quite a few movies from the ’70s,” he adds. “It was pretty gutsy of Diablo to attempt it again because, at face value, this script seemed so unmakable. That was part of the fun of it.”
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