January 11, 2008

Juno (Reitman, 2007)

This year's Little Miss Sunshine. That seems to be the label of choice for all of the award season pundits when discussing Juno. And though the comparisons are apt to a certain degree (this sort of hip, colorful, American indie filmmaking has become a genre unto itself) Juno does a remarkable job of toeing the line. On occasion, it comes close, but director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody never quite allow the film to implode into the realm of cloying quirkiness. Juno's cheekiness may be annoying at times, but it feels quite true to her emotional and physical maturity. Ellen Page is sure to be the beneficiary of much praise, but the performance to savor is J.K. Simmons, who imbues his role as Juno's father with humor and a wonderfully confused but unwavering love. Certainly not the year's best, but funnier, if quite a bit lighter, than last year's indie sensation.


Ed Hardy, Jr. said...

I join you in your praise of J.K. Simmons. I'm a bit dubious, though, about your distinction of JUNO as lighter than LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. "Last year's indie hit" unavoidably aroused in the viewer's mind a topic of enormous weight--the sexual exploitation of minors--then refused to discuss it at all.

I liked how issues of right and wrong were never cut-and-dried in the film, allowing the viewer to decide if they were on the side of the seemingly more sensible mother or the apparently insane father, but its skirting of weighty issues was a bit disgusting to me. At least in JUNO they TALK about abortion. Though, as Amy Taubin points out in the latest Film Comment, there isn't much equivocation on the topic. Unborn babies have fingernails, so "the other option" is out of the question.

R.A. Naing said...

The points you bring up regarding LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE are all valid, and yet, I still can't help but feel that JUNO is the lighter film. Yes, the subject of abortion is broached, but as you mentioned, it is done so in a manner so one -sided that it feels as if it wasn't brought up at all. I think this is what leads me to feel an inherent weightlessness in the narrative. All of the characters seem to deal with Juno's predicament quite lightly given the circumstances. It never felt like there was even the possibility that anything would turn out for the worst.