Thursday, February 14, 2008

Film Review: Juno

It makes a lovely change to be able to say nice things about a film. I sometimes wonder if I'm impossible to please, so it's very cool to know that it is possible to make a movie I'm into. Juno is that film.

It's great. All the things I potentially could have hated were definite pluses. When describing the film to someone at work I could see the look of utter disgust appear as I said “a sassy teenager gets pregnant – hilarity ensues.” It may be a fair summation of the plot but I think I may have put more people off than I convinced – and that's a shame.

Some people (Radio Four I am looking at you) have said the dialogue is overwritten – not me. As keen as I am on monosyllabic social realism it makes a refreshing change to see a film where the characters are almost as articulate as my friends.

What I don't understand is why studios allow so many films to be made with such poor scripts. I mean if I were to draw up a list of 200 over used phrases it would be as if that very list was the style guide of so many Hollywood movies. These films have teams of writers for God sake. It has to be part of some sick and twisted plan surely.

Juno has been described as stylised – mainly because the characters talk funny sometimes, or tell jokes, but how could any objective analysis say Juno's dialogue was more stylised than that in Rambo, or Wild Geese, or Who Dares Wins – but this time to house style makes you want to hear what the characters have to say.

The plot (a tinge of spoiler, but nothing major)

Juno follows an awkward teenager from impregnation (at what appears to be her first sexual encounter) through the abortion clinic, through finding potential adoptive parents and into the birth. The characterisations and performances of her complex web of personal relationships is really excellent. There's not a single black and white card board cut out to be seen, although there is a delicious mix of the shallows and depths of our emotional terrain on display.

If there is a film that is shot through with human agency it is this one. People make choices, they construct themselves, they live the lives that they have made for themselves. Even the accidental pregnancy had an undeniable edge of deliberacy to it.

But the keywords this film invokes are;

  • Funny.
  • Alienated.
  • Light.
  • Human.
  • Clever.

That's a good mix. It flatly refused to patronise the audience or its subject and I wish there were more overwritten comedy's about the bleakest lives with human hope just dying to get out.

PS Juno is not Zeus's wife as stated in the film, Hera was Zeus's wife – Juno was the wife of Jupiter... just thought I'd leave you with a niggle.

1 comment:

Renegade Eye said...

The writer Diablo Cody was a local stripper and blogger.

I thought it was good, but not good enough for best picture at the Academy Awards.