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Adult World 2013 ***

The jury has been out on the merits of Emma Roberts as an actress; growing up in public is a tough route to stardom, and it would be hard to raise much enthusiasm for any aspect of her Nancy Drew reboot. Scott Coffey’s Adult World is a deliberately worldly comedy/drama, pitching Amy, as aspiring poetess, into the frustrating and competitive environment of getting her writing published, a career choice that alienates her parents and leads her to work in a mom-and-pop pornographic bookstore. From there, Amy manages to elicit the friendship of gender-bender Rubio (Armando Riesco), co-worker Alex (Evan Peters) and develops hopes of becoming protégé of writer Rat Billings, a writer that she idolises despite his lack of interest in her or her work. After a series of roles as serial killers, it’s nice to see John Cusack give a more relaxed performance as Rat, a literary but cynical figure, a neat update on the tortured teens he made his name playing. And Roberts finally comes into her own here; from the opening scene in which she attempts suicide, Sylvia Plath-style, by sticking her head in an over, she captures youthful enthusiasm giving way to painful self-knowledge in this slight but warmly charming film.


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