Thursday, April 17, 2008

Juno


Juno is the last of the 2007 Oscar Best Picture nominees that I watched. It may not be as ambitious or lavish as the other contenders but it is definitely the most sweet and likeable. With a sharp, intelligent script and a luminous lead performance, the film, like its title character, is a charmer.

Juno is a 16 year old girl who is pregnant. With her boyfriend as confused and unprepared as she is, she decides to get an abortion. But abandoning her initial instinct after a visit to the clinic, Juno decides to give the baby up for adoption after its born and zeroes in on a well-to-do couple, who have been unable to have a baby after 5 years of trying, as the adoptive parents.

Juno is a film thats watchable just for its script. The lines are consistently sharp and smart, whether they occur during innocent banter between Juno and her friend, chats between Juno and her baby's future parents or conversations between the parents. There are a number of solid chuckles and hearty laughs and when the script goes for other emotions, like during the harsh lecture Juno's mom delivers to the hospital assistant or in the conversation Juno has with her baby's father after learning he has a date for the prom, it nails them too. Overall, Juno is a film where everything that everyone says is immensely listenable.

The other big asset of the film is its heroine Ellen Page. She brings out every emotion just perfectly and is a complete natural. It helps that she is surrounded by perfectly-cast actors. Michael Sara is perfect as her boyfriend. He initially seems like a flaky high school kid who doesn't want any responsibilities but surprises us along with Ellen. Jennifer Garner conveys the anxieties of a mom-in-waiting very well(she is just fabulous in the scene in the mall where she feels the baby in Page's stomach) while J.K.Simmons hides his usual gruff persona to portray an affectionate and completely practical dad. The actresses who play Ellen's friend and Ellen's mom are also great.

With the subject of unwanted pregnancy and promised adoption, we are prepared for a particular story arc. But the screenplay surprises us with the path it takes. The problems introduced aren't expected - even if there are enough hints before - and the film deals with them in a very mature fashion. There are no bad guys and the screenplay doesn't judge or side with anybody. And the film ends just perfectly.

8 Comments:

At 11:57 PM, Blogger Bart said...

BB, Haven't seen Juno yet. Waiting to see. But saw "No country for old men" this week. BTW, I cannot recollect but did you thot on it? I loved the movie. The taking of the story and the screenplay was just brilliant. Could've been a good action flick under any other hands, but it transformed into something bigger with lots of subtexts, hidden parallels etc... (ofcourse, major credit of that goes to the novel author - mccarthy).
One request / suggestion, can you introduce tags on your reviews which might make it easier to trackback all your old entries on the blogsite (e.g.: english movie reviews, music review etc.). Might become a pain for you to tag all your old entries but why not for the future ones?

 
At 12:00 AM, Blogger B o o said...

I watched it on the plane while coming back from US this time. I loved the movie but could nt understand what all the hype was about. I mean, its a cute movie but not great! And yes, I loved the dialogues too. Especially the one between the mom and the know-it-all ultrasound technician! ;)

 
At 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good review!
I have to watch this one. Have heard so much about it, but skipped it at the theatres because Id then just watched another similar film called "Knocked up" which was plain silly and unbearable to watch. The lead Katherine Heigl in that film was at her annoying best. But Juno, I hear has been very sensibly made,with some great lines just like you mentioned. Have to catch this one soon.
Shwetha

 
At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BB, yes, it was a beautiful movie...the movie stayed with me and my wife for at least a couple of days after the screening...we were talking about some aspect of the movie or another...i absolutely loved the fact that they didnt espouse a holier than thou attitude towards young girls getting pregnant...it was as though they were saying, "its not the best thing that has happened to juno at this young age. now that its happened, we just deal with it the best possible way" and boy, did the movie deal with it well or what!
yes, i was terribly moved by the mall scene. jennifer garner was terrific in that as well as her final scene with her useless hubby...
ellen page's performance was so authentic...she really looked the part and the moment where she pulls over (at the highway after hearing some not-so-good news from garner) and sobs, was heartbreaking...

Ram
PS: bb, i am not able to post it using the "name/URL" option - can u check on that?

 
At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i thought it was an ok movie...however i felt that some of the lines were a tad too much...especially the ones done by ellen page..i know its not her fault but it reminded me of a toned down version of superbad...it just missed with me i guess...also i had a question for everyone..My friend and i debated on this after we saw the film, didn't it feel at some point that Jennifer Garner's husband seemed to be interested in juno a little bit? I saw the movie awhile ago but i remembered when he told juno that he was leaving garner juno seemed upset, however i believe he said that he thought that was what she wanted..and gave further reasons as she came over frequently...i dont know, just a question for everyone else..
Bharath

 
At 11:38 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

bart, saw 'no country for old men' on dvd some time back. loved it. tense and intense and completely unpredictable. not sure if i got all the subtexts, parallels, etc. though. but thorougly enjoyable on the surface too :)

boo, i think part of the hype was from the movie's background - new screenplay writer who was a stripper(I think). kinda rags-to-riches story that caught everyone's attention :)

Shwetha, I actually loved 'knocked up'(my wife loved it too). thot it was very funny and kinda sweet too. but i wouldn't place 'juno' in the same category though :)

ram, so true. juno's parents' attitude reflected what u were saying too nad it was probably the most refreshing part of the movie. the scene where juno tells them she is pregnant was a true gem :)

Bharath, they definitely hinted at some closeness between juno and bateman. not sure it was interest though. i think the closeness came from what they saw in each other. for bateman, it was juno's youth and freedom while for juno, it was the responsibility and maturity that she didn't see in cera :)

 
At 2:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw Juno the moment it was out. Was completely looking forward to it bacause the trailer looked very promising. I knew i couldn't expect the usual romantic, feel good or comedy movie but rather something out of the box.

At the end of the movie, i was tearing. Ellen page carried off her role effortlessly especially in scenes like where she left in a huff after finding out the the adoptive father's intentions.

I was particularly inpressed by Jennifer Garner. Her role was contrary to the action packed roles that i was used to seeing her in. And yes, the scene where she feels the baby's movements in the shopping centre is something that all mothers can identify with, especially the emotions.

Really enjoyed the movie and i'm looking forward to the next movie that has ellen page called Smart People.

-Megan

 
At 12:05 PM, Blogger anush said...

Juno was really a lovely movie .. when i read the initial reviews i badly wanted to see the movie and tried to interest a couple of friends to accompany me to movie hall ... when i first told them the story couple of them said , it sounds like 'Kya Kehna' .. the Priety Zinta starrer .. i dint know what to say !
But somehow managed to drag them to watch the movie and all of us were really impressed by the wit !
everyone agreed tht it was Totally different from the hindi movie though the basic details were the same and we were simply amazed at how they managed to turn a plot like a pregnant girl handing baby over for adoption onto something really sweet and witty !

btw don't remember u covering other Oscar nominated movies of this year

 

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