Thursday, January 31, 2008


Last night I finally saw Juno, Roger Ebert's favorite film of 2007 and recipient of four Oscar nominations, which has as its center the story of an unplanned pregnancy and the people affected by it. The protagonist, Juno MacGuff, played by Ellen Page in one of those so-good-she's-either-brilliant-or-really-like-that-in-real-life performances, is a misfit attracted to her male mirror image. Wiser beyond her years, slightly jaded by life and negotiating the pitfalls of the high school psychological assault course, she responds to her pregnancy by initially seeking an abortion – and the nonchalance with which she is treated is the only thing sadder than the unthinking speed with which she makes the decision. She is greeted by a lone protestor – the sole representative of institutional Christianity in the movie – as young as her, who, while a welcome change from the angry fundamentalist stereotype, may know as little about adult life as Juno does about the experience of pregnancy she's about to have. But something unsettles Juno, and she is unable to go through with the termination. Instead, she plans to have the child and help a couple seeking to adopt.

And that's it – the rest of the film is a deceptively simple story, taking Juno through the following months, her relationship with family, her best friend, and Paulie Bleeker – the dude she hung out with a little too late one night. There's not much to the tale at first glance, but I found the way in which it is told (by writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman – son of Ivan, who brought us Ghostbusters and the wonderful presidential satire Dave) – so utterly beguiling that by the time the film was over I wanted to go straight back to the start to rediscover these characters all over again.

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Country Parson said...

One of these days I have to see a movie in a theatre just so I can say I've done it again. Once every seven or eight years ought to be enough.

Tom said...

Thanks for caring.


David Williamson said...

It's a terrific gem of a move.

Initially, I was determined to resist its charms. Folky music, sassy one-liners and whimsical animations do not a film of independent sensibilities make.

But that's actually it's joy. As you note, it is deceptively simple. It is a modern story well-told - and what an accomplishment.

It proves that just as the "teenager" is a relatively recent invention, so the confusion associated with this time extends well into one's 20s and 30s. The would-be rock star in his his McMansion is as feckless as the 15-year-old in his bedroom.

It has a dazzling script, but the art design is as much a joy. Nothing is as telling as the shot of the would-be mum standing by her disengaged husband wearing the Alice in Chains T-shirt which for her is something to get paint on, but for him is a holy relic.

Ah, great cinema! True joy.

Whitney said...

i think it's wonderful how movies like juno and little miss sunshine with their semi-dark, sarcastic wit are gathering cult followings. and, as a pastor-type, your talk at your friend's funeral was lovely and poignantly real. i'm really sorry.