wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)
Written by blogger and former stripper Diablo Cody, Juno is like an extremely hummable song. The kind that gets stuck in your head and you find yourself constantly amazed at how the lyrics are so apt for your life. Juno is a brilliantly subtle film, written like a simple story just waiting to be told.Read more
Juno is one of those films that make you forget that you’re watching a film. I detest labels, but Juno is an indie film at its best – with subtle characterization, an endearingly refreshing soundtrack and a film with a basic agenda to just tell a story. And it’s no wonder that Juno won the Academy Award for the Best Original Screenplay in 2007. After watching Juno, you won’t be left with an over-powering cinematic feeling. You’ll be left feeling like the character Juno in the film yourself, in a simplistically relatable way.
Juno is about a 16 year old quirky girl (played by the remarkable Ellen Page) who is wiser beyond her age. She decides that her sexual curiosity has reached its peak and in order to satiate her, um, “questions” she chooses her best friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). Unfortunately, she finds she is pregnant, and this film begins here. There’s no over-dramatic love-making scene - what you remember from the 30 second glimpse of the two making love is that Bleeker’s mouth tasted of Orange Tic-Tac – and it’s what Juno remembers most as well.
The film is broken into the 4 seasons, corresponding to Juno’s trimesters. Juno decides she wants to give her child to deserving parents – the candidates are played by Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Gardner). Each character is almost pitch perfect, be it the adoptive couple, or Juno’s sassy parents played by J K Simmons and Allison Janney. You can really see where Juno gets her quirkiness.
Juno is an extremely engaging film for many reasons – driven by a pure story, characters that make you want to rejoice and a childlike visual texture that just brightens the screen. But mostly, Juno’s strongpoint is its simplicity. What’s obvious is how the film doesn’t make the whole abortion debate a bag of drama, and deals with it as Juno's experience. But beyond that you realize just how toned down it all is – every relationship that is determined by minute observations and every scene that expresses itself through dialogue that makes you feel like an inquisitive eaves-dropper.
The DVD of Juno has some interesting features: a crackling audio commentary by director Jason Riteman and writer Diablo Cody. The commentary is funny, insightful and talks at length about their interpretation of Juno’s character. Even here, the discussion isn’t pointed towards the social debate about abortion, or pro-choice. The gag reel is hilarious, filled with profanity and each actor pulling the other’s leg. It’s the kind of humour you can see translate into the grammar of the film.
There are 11 deleted scenes, and each one make you wish they were included in the film. I even tried it out where I would put it, and how it would then flow. When was the last time you remember doing that with deleted scenes?
I would suggest every one of you to first buy the DVD, but also get hold of the entire extended soundtrack of the film, which unfortunately is not there on the DVD. Each song is so emblematic of the film; one quirkier than the other. And yet they merely breeze through in the film, almost like a wasp of cool air when you pass by an air-conditioner.
But if you had to point to one thing in the film that stands out among the rest, it would be Ellen Page’s performance. All of 20, she plays an eccentric girl full of back-slapped one liners and a bag of repartee, but even so, you just want to hug her. You can’t miss Juno!
This review is by guest reviewer Swetha Ramakrishnan. Swetha Ramakrishnan is currently living and working in Mumbai. She's a self-confessed film enthusiast and can most likely be found talking to anyone and everyone about popular cinema and her love for SRK. Swetha Ramakrishnan also blogs at http://swetharamakrishnan.blogspot.com/.
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