'Young Adult': Diablo Cody Talks Divorce In New Film
Oscar-award-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody makes no apologies for Mavis Gary, the leading lady of her newest film "Young Adult." The whiskey-drinking, reality television-addicted writer, played by Charlize Theron, is flawed and unabashedly mean. She's also a divorcee who returns to her hometown of Mercury, Minnesota to win back her high school boyfriend Buddy. It's true that he's married with a kid, but Mavis doesn't seem to see that as much of a roadblock.
We spoke with Cody about how divorce -- both her own and Mavis' -- informs the film, which opens in limited release this weekend. Here's what she had to say:
Your film "Young Adult" is about a divorcee who hasn't really grown up. How does her divorce shape her character?
She's definitely a person who's more interested in how things appear than actual substance. So you can imagine that she probably failed at marriage because she had a romantic [view] of how it would be. She's very superficial, and superficiality is not a desired quality if you're trying to maintain a long-term relationship. As far as how the divorce has informed her as a character, when we meet her, obviously it's contributed to some of her bitterness and some of her disillusionment. I think that's what drives her desire to get her high school boyfriend back. She feels somehow that that relationship was perfect and untainted and the relationship she had as an adult wasn't as satisfying.
The only time we see Mavis visibly upset about her divorce is when she sees her wedding photo on the wall of her parents' house. Why is she so rocked by it?
An immature person wants to move past their mistakes as quickly as possible. And she just wants to forget that the marriage ever happened. She wants to forget that she had a first husband. She is just a tornado of need moving forward in life. And for her to see a reminder of that commitment she made and broke is really irritating. She does not like that her parents will not get with the program and erase every artifact of Alan, her first husband. The thing is, the world doesn't work that way. Even if you've moved on, you can't make other people move on. Alan meant a lot to her parents and that frustrates her. She's not willing to let other people get closure on their own time because she's too big of a baby.
How else do those feelings manifest in the film?
I think she is really disappointed with all men, in a way. In the beginning of the movie you see her on a date. And it's clear that she has very little respect for the guy she's sitting with even though he seems perfectly decent. I think people who've been through a breakup tend to project that experience on any future potential mate. And particularly when you're not really over it emotionally.
You are also a divorcee. How did your own experiences inform your writing of this character?
I'm one of the people that were divorced by 30, which is apparently a growing group ... Obviously it's something that affects you forever. It's going to be interesting to see in ten, twenty years what kind of lasting effect young divorce has on the people that are doing it because it's becoming more and more common.
Do you have any advice for divorcees getting back into the dating game?
I would say don't rush it, because even if you think you're ready to move on, you're probably still a quivering mass of raw nerves. And rebound relationships are dangerous. But I think the mistake that Mavis makes is that she's looking for something that doesn't exist anymore. She's trying to recreate her past. So I would say use a sharp tactic and just keep moving forward. Don't go back.