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Struggling young talent discovers herself in Adult World

Now showing at the UICA, Adult World follows a young hopeful poet trying to find her place in the real world.

Adult World

Directed by: Scott Coffey

Written by: Andy Cochran

Length: 93 minutes

Rating: R

Now playing at UICA through March 27, see the website for showtimes.

Adult World is an interesting, sometimes digressing, film depicting the struggles of a young woman looking for her artistic voice. Amy Anderson, a college student from Syracuse, is full of hope, curiosity, and very average poetry. Despite her setbacks and financial constraints, her desire to write and share every poetic wisp of an idea cannot be held down, even in front of her peers. The world continues to tell her she cannot succeed, in the form of her parents, her classmates, and even her roommate Candace.

Although he is a pessimist, former-wunderkind Rat Billing (John Cusack) is one of the few figures in Amy’s life that doesn’t explicitly tell her she can’t make it. He met her the way any famous individual might meet a roving fan: cornered by her in a parking lot, on his porch, in his living room. No one would have cried foul had he filed for a restraining order, but he didn’t. While he took his time to read her poetry, Rat encouraged her writing, by simply playing a game of literary hard-to-get. Part of the charm of Adult World is seeing the lengths Amy goes in order to convince Rat of her potential as a future poet.

As the title suggests, this includes working at an adult bookstore named Adult World. This store is managed by Alex, portrayed by Evan Peters. Alex, in many ways, is the opposite of Amy. Alex is an artist of sorts, although unlike Amy, refuses to share this with the world. He is the artistic foil to our desperate poet-to-be, but doesn’t push Amy near as much as I would have hoped by the time the movie ends. Learning his story adds to an altogether powerful finale in which Amy has realizations about her job, her writing and about her motivation in being an artist.

Adult World is full of vibrant characters, down-to-earth dialogue, and metaphors galore. Much of the film is grounded in allegories, leading Amy to search through other aspects of her life to find her voice as a poet. Whether her mentor Rat Billings had this in mind when he first took her on is unclear, but what the movie makes apparent is that he is the one to give her the final push she needs toward poetic maturity.

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