Juno – Orion’s Take
A sweet treat that manages to avoid being saccharine with a deft sense of humor and just plain weirdness, this is one film that kept me captured all the way through. Those that know me know that when I get emotionally involved in a movie I will often stop and pause the movie because I’m concerned about the wellbeing of the characters involved and sometimes I’ll even yell at the screen.
Such was the case in this well-spun story about a 16-year-old girl’s struggle to understand herself in the midst of an unwanted and unexpected pregnancy. Juno (Ellen Page), who is named after the Roman queen of the gods, decides on finding an adoptive home for her child and spins through the world with an attitude that is hard to describe. A mixture of wide-eyed astonishment, cynicism and hope, she is a bundle of contradictions that somehow presents a likeable character: though Juno is rude and sometimes foolish, she can get away with it. In one scene Juno remarks, rather callously, to a woman who cannot get pregnant, that she would never want what is happening to her. We, as viewers, can see the pain flash across the face of Vanessa (played masterfully by Jennifer Garner), but can forgive and even love Juno.
The interaction between a woman who longs to be a mother and an expecting mother who has no idea what she wants is engaging. Jennifer Garner manages to capture the desperation and joy that her character feels throughout the film with elegance, never overdoing it, just putting her heart and soul into showing this flawed but loving woman for who she is. And it works. Her character is one of the best in a film filled with many great characters.
Each character is portrayed with a special eye for their quirks, which makes them all the more human. Juno’s father works with heaters and air conditioners, her stepmom is obsessed with dogs and works at a nail salon, her best friend has a “thing” for older, bearded teachers, and her not-really-boyfriend-or-lover runs track and rubs deodorant on his thighs. The support of her friends and family through the film changes Juno in inexplicable ways, and is very sweet. I especially liked the father, who, while living through a father’s worst nightmare, never raises his voice at his daughter (which is not to say that he never gets angry) and keeps his good humor and down-to-earth nature all the way through.
This is a movie that is so filled with awkwardness that I felt right at home. The movie, in the words of my partner Apple, is “super cute.” I have to agree. Whether it was the sight of Juno’s cheeseburger phone, or the way her stepmother stands up for her, something got to me when I watched this film.