Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson has posted a very tangy and candid q & a with Young Adult director Jason Reitman. It very precisely articulates the nature and character of Young Adult. Here’s my favorite part:
Anne Thompson: “Diablo Cody has a very strong voice. Did you ever want to mute or delete or say, ‘you went too far here?’ Or did you say, ‘let’s go for it?'”
Jason Reitman: “No, no. I love Diablo’s voice and I love how gutsy she is in her writing. It’s gutsy to sit down and write this script. The script is basically un-makeable. You know what I mean?”
AT: “Yes! A normal studio, ordinarily, would say, ‘forget this.'”
JR: “Yeah. And she knows this business now. If you were completely naive, maybe you’d write this and you wouldn’t know any better. But she knows better. She knows how un-makeable the film is, particularly the way it ends. And she wrote it. And she wrote the character without compromising, from start to end, on who she was. She never tried to excuse her behavior, she said, ‘no, this is a broken, traumatized human being who wants to be loved and makes horrible mistakes and treats people horribly,’ and that’s why I loved it. And that’s why Charlize loved it.”
AT: “Mavis looks back to her glory days in high school as the prom queen, and still manipulates people with her beauty. She’s twisted about it.”
JR: “[Charlize] took this character which could so easily be a caricature, just a mean woman who is nasty — you see actors do this all the time. They play a really mean character and they overdo it just enough to let you know, ‘I’m doing a character, I’m not really like this,’ but she is able not only to do it without compromise but to show how broken she is the entire time without using dialogue, without clothes, without body language. There’s nothing that she does where she’s signaling to you, ‘by the way I’m a broken human being.’ She does it with her nature. Very few actors know how to do that, and she does it just effortlessly.”
AT: “I got angry at a friend of mine because he walked out of the movie.”
JR: “Dick!” (Laughter)
AT: “And I said, ‘you’re excoriating this movie, you’re going on and on about how uncomfortable you feel, and I’m not going to argue with you but you didn’t stay to see the resolution. That’s what makes the whole thing pay off.'”
JR: “I find that people’s attitude about the movie changes 24, 48 hours after they see it. Because at first it’s a smack in the face, and some people get smacked. But a day later, maybe you start to look at it and think, ‘well I haven’t had that kind of theatrical experience in a while, maybe there’s something about that I can relate to.’ Diablo once said that this is our horror film.”
AT: “It is. You’re putting people through a kind of social torture, because all of us are anxious about social situations where we might do the wrong thing or humiliating ourselves in front of someone you love. It’s always excruciating. That’s what you show.”
JR: “And the monster’s alive at the end. Like a horror film! Like you think she’s killed, but she’s back. Patton has all sorts of theories about how this is a horror film. Like the wine stain is a blood stain on her dress. So I do think this is my horror film.”
I have to insert one nagging observation. Reitman calling YA a horror film and Charlize’s Mavis being a monster sent my mind into an association that has nothing to do with Young Adult and everything to do with Reitman’s undercurrent and appearance when you see him at events and screenings. He’s a very straight shooter and a tough hombre, but he always gives me this look that says, “Aaahh, you again…look, no offense but talk to someone else, okay?’ And that’s cool. I don’t need everyone to like me. I just have to be as honest and skillful with my HE writings as possible and let the chips fall, etc.
Maybe Reitman didn’t like this piece I did about why he lost the Best Screenplay Oscar. Or this January 2010 piece about the real meaning of The Insider, which Reitman felt meant “smoking bad! tobacco companies bad!”
Anyway, the Reitman association I have is that with the anger (which is pretty much an essential ingredient for any serious artist) and the beard and the long graying hair, Reitman is a kind of werewolf. A Hollywood werewolf who puts on his Lawrence Talbot face to the industry and interviewers, but who has this other side when the moon is full and you run into him at parties.