"Juno" - a review

It's been a hectic last few weeks, what with being away each of the last 4 weekends. I'm looking forward to a little more stability at least until the end of the month. One of the weekends away was with a group from school on a (very successful) training weekend for this year's African Educational Project trip in July to 2 of our Brothers' schools in Uganda. I'll post some photos from the weekend soon.

In the meantime, here's my review of the much-hyped "Juno".

*****************



"Juno" is the second film by Jason Reitman. I liked it very much in all aspects, writing, acting + direction - the latter being a little less gimmicky than in the director's other film "Thank You For Smoking". It is very much a character piece that manages to avoid too many character clichés. Yes, the father of the child, Paulie Bleeker is a bit of a nerdy geek (he'd have to be with a name like that!), but much less obviously a figure of fun than in most teen movies. In fact, this is an important point. "Juno" has been billed as a "hilarious" teen comedy. I think is a little unfair on the film and unfair on the kind of teen audience looking for "American Pie 6". I did find it funny, or rather witty, but its humour is much more sardonic and sarcastic than in your average teen movie. More Woody Allen than Farrelly Brothers. Indeed, some of my 6th form Film Studies students who were at the same showing said afterwards that they didn't like it at all, finding it completely unfunny. This is a shame, but I only took issue with them when one said it was a "bad" film. Obviously they've not been listening to me in class!

I thought the film was quite touching too in a gentle, un-Hollywood kind of way, especially Juno's relationship with Paulie (who Michael Cera plays with a lovely understatement). Juno's witty ripostes and off-kilter behaviour may seem a tad too contrived at times, but then I came to think that she uses such behaviour as a way of holding onto the safety of adolescence when her predicament is forcing her to deal with adult "issues way beyond my maturity level" as she says.

Ellen Page as Juno is quite something. There is a real emotional depth and subtlety to her performance, but I never lost the feeling that she was a teenager. Precocious, yes, but still a teen. I love the scene when she tells her father + stepmother about her pregnancy.

I couldn't help thinking that the prospective adoptive couple Vanessa + Mark, (wonderfully played by Jennifer Garner + Jason Bateman - she a brittle, image conscious Yuppie whose brittleness fails to mask deep emotional needs, he a 30-something slacker muso still dreaming of being a rock star, but trying to conform to the type of husband his wife wants him to be) mirror two sides of Juno's own nature. The fact that she bonds immediately with Mark and is a budding guitarist herself seems to confirm this.

I have a thing about final scenes in films. My favourite in recent times has to in "The Lives Of Others". But this film's closing dialogue (with its musical outro) is quite lovely, Michael Cera in particular absolutely nailing the scene and threatening to walk away with whole film. By this stage I had been thoroughly won over by the film, its characters and situations, its gentle narrative flow following the seasons of Juno's pregnancy, by the soundtrack songs. It is a film I will see again with pleasure.
Post a Comment

Popular Posts

40 acts for Lent

“We come alive when we step beyond the comforts of what we know.” Tim Foreman

“Our need for friendly giants”