Posted by: Paul | October 24, 2010

Juno

I had been meaning to watch this for some time, and finally got round to it last night. And it was the loveliest movie I’ve seen in ages – feelgood in all the best ways, without being schmaltzy or overly sentimental.

Juno MacGuff (the brilliant Ellen Page) has fallen pregnant to her best friend-cum-boyfriend Pauly Bleeker (Michael Cera). She’s 16, but wise beyond her years. Her first thought is to have an abortion, but unable to go through with it she decides to put the baby up for adoption to a wealthy couple unable to conceive (Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman, and Jennifer Garner). As the months wear on, Juno, who is already so mature and knowledgeable about life, has her preconceptions about marriage and family life shaken when it becomes clear that not all is as it should be in the suburban paradise into which she is passing her child.

This reminded me a lot of the recent Scott Pilgrim vs The World, and not just because of Cera’s involvement. It has that same quickfire comic book-style witty dialogue, and a similar low-budget, suburban aesthetic about it, from the handdrawn title sequence to the ordinary, everyday setting brought to life by vivid characterisation and eye-catching use of colour. Incidentally, this is Cera’s best movie performance – he always plays the sort of vulnerable geek, but witness his face when told Juno is pregnant, and again at the end of the movie (which I won’t spoil). Now THAT’s acting. This character has more depth than his other roles – the gawky, awkward kid who is so far away from being ready to be a father, and yet in some ways so much more mature than the man who is about to become one.

This is a wonderful movie from an incredibly smart script by Diablo Cody, chock full of not just the wisecracks and clever one-liners tossed out by Juno herself, but also shot through with so much pathos it’s hard not to feel involved. It’s a realistic story, told with realism, and with a realistic outcome. Not easy to achieve, and it doesn’t feel Hollywoodised at all. It’s also really nice to see a screen depiction of a high school which feels ‘real’, and is not so divisive as most American media would have you believe, where the cheerleaders mix with normal kids, being ‘normal’ themselves, and the jocks not getting their own way all the time. It treats its subjects and audience with the maturity which both deserve.

In short, highly recommended.

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