Saturday, 23 April 2016
Movie Review: Juno (2007)
In suburban Minnesota, 16 year old high school student Juno MacGuff (Page) finds herself pregnant after having sex once with her best friend and classmate Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). Juno considers having an abortion but cannot go though with it, and with the help of best girlfriend Leah (Olivia Thirlby), she reveals her condition to her father Mac (J.K. Simmons) and stepmother Bren (Allison Janney).
Juno connects with childless yuppie couple Vanessa and Mark Loring (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman), and arranges for a private adoption. Vanessa is desperate to be a mom, but Juno senses that Mark, a former rock musician now reduced to composing television commercial jingles, is not nearly as enthusiastic. As the pregnancy progresses Juno has to face scorn at her school, and her friendship with Bleeker is strained to the breaking point. She finds herself spending more time with Mark, and starts to question what it takes for two people to stick together and raise a family.
There are moments of tension, with Juno and stepmom Bren having a hot/cold relationship and the realities of the pregnancy proving too difficult for Juno and Bleeker to deal with as a couple. But the film never descends into banal territory, and instead always latches on to the fundamental humanness of the characters, where humour, some cynicism and plenty of emotional survival instincts reside.
Diablo Cody wrote the original script with plenty of inspiration from her real life. She captures high school teen talk at its most fluent, Juno and Leah adept at rattling off the euphemisms reflective of their time, all conveyed with the attitude of 16 year olds caught somewhere between fierce individuality and the typical need to find acceptance. Juno has moments of childlike brattiness mixed in with lucid realizations of what the challenges of the adult world are all about, and the film shines in portraying a girl literally evolving into a woman, physically and emotionally.
Ellen Page lights up the screen as Juno. The Canadian actress was 20 at the time of filming and convincingly plays at 16, bringing to the role edginess, humour and the over-excited self-confidence of a teenager. Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman are delicious as the couple who seem to have it all, but with a palpable current of tension running from their tight smiles and into every room of their too-perfect home.
Juno is the perfect little film, a jewel of self-aware quirkiness.
All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.