Signed up the 25/04/2017
Juno is a movie about a 16-year old, Juno (played by Ellen Paige) – who falls pregnant after having sex with her best friend, Paulie (Michael Cera). Confused and tangled, she informs her older yet lovable father and step mother, who at first are stunned by the news, yet remain supportive. Traumatized by a visit to the abortion clinic, her friend Leah (Olivia Thirby) has her look into the option of putting the child up for adoption instead. Juno then comes across a lovely couple by the names of Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark Loring (Jason Bateman) who are desperate for a baby. Without giving too much away, the movie chronicles her pregnancy journey, the pressures of adulthood, and her relationships.
Written by first-timer Diablo Cody, the movie won Best Original Screenplay at the 80th Academy awards, in addition to nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress for Ellen Paige. Ellen displays one of the best performances I’ve seen. Only 20 at the time of filming, she’s confident, sharp, quick minded, but also not too much. She is seen as a quirky teenager, but her hidden feelings and fears surface. This is a genuine story told by authentic actors and accompanied by a fantastic script. I am personally a fan of simple narratives that don’t over complicate themselves and try too hard, and Juno excels at this.
I have always said that anyone can write a fairly good Drama, but Comedy is more challenging. It requires a combination of timing, presence and great performances that showcase the ingenuousness of the script. This is not entirely a comedy. It also has some heartfelt moments. For example the scene where Juno asks her father about true love and whether it’s possible for two people to be together forever. Her exchange with Paulie when she realises her true feelings for him, or Vanessa's vulnerability and uncovering the truth about Mark and their marriage.
I love how the story unravels. It starts off with a slow pace, where the more you watch, the more you begin to understand and grow to love the characters. You get to see how Juno’s pregnancy affects everyone in the movie, which I think is imperative. Subsequently, there are no bad guys, in fact it just makes the characters more human because they portray their flaws and shortcomings outwardly. Each cast member plays a role in piecing the story together. The use of funny man Jason Bateman, who tackles a more serious role, of which to me shows his diversity that some people think he lacks (see This is Where I Leave You & The Gift). His wife, played by Jennifer Garner – who is radiant in most of her scenes, portrays a vulnerability that is raw and believable. She was meant for the role. And let’s not forget multi Emmy-Award Winner Alison Janney and Oscar Winner JK Simmons, known for supportive roles, who are brilliant as usual.
This is a movie where there are moments when you don’t know whether to laugh or cry or both. Ultimately, you just root for Juno, as with most protagonists. You need not have a specific movie taste. This is guaranteed enjoyment for everyone. You’ll yearn for more when you’re done.
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