Watch Juno for Ellen Page, if for nothing else.
In real life, Page, 21, is a talented actress who has appeared in films such as Hard Candy and X-Men. What Page shares in common with the titular character she plays in Juno is an impressive sense of maturity beyond her years. Juno, a wise-cracking, fast-talking 16-year-old, finds herself preggers after conducting a sexual experiment with her geeky best buddy Bleeker (Michael Cera). She then spends the rest of the film deciding how best to deal with her unborn baby.
Page doesn’t so much as act, but inhabits the role of Juno. She injects Juno with just the right amount of spunkiness, quirkiness and precociousness. Juno is by turns sarcastic, crude, hilarious, and most importantly, always very endearing. For all her brashness and wit, Juno still possesses the naivety of a teenager who has yet to realise the full complexity of adult relationships. Juno deals with her pregnancy and her subsequent quest for adoptive parents with bravado and Zen-like calm but certain very telling scenes convey her fear- her feigned disinterest scarcely masking acute disappointment when Bleeker agreed to an abortion, her jealous confrontation with Bleeker when she found out he asked another girl to Prom and my favourite: crying on the way home when she realised that the seemingly perfect adoptive parents (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) she had found were about to divorce. Page does all the crying scenes beautifully- she cries with the abandon and frustration of a 16-year-old. That’s it really, she makes you believe Juno is for real.
Jennifer Garner, as an uptight career woman who badly wants a child, put in a commendable performance and is even more gorgeous now than in her Alias days. The rest of the supporting cast- Cera, Juno’s best friend and parents were all excellent. I loved the cool opening sequence to the film.
Nearly every review i have come across has lauded Juno as one of the best indie comedies of the year. The film supposedly reflected the general sentiment and behavior of American teens. I find it a tad difficult to identify with the story though- Juno’s parents are way calm for people who have just been informed that their baby is gonna have a baby of her own. Is it really normal for 16-year-olds to go to school, buy Snicker bars at supermarkets and be pregnant all at the same time? Is it ok for them to go wham-bang-thank-you-ma’am so long as they use condoms? The plot was predictable and almost made surrogacy and teen pregnancy too easy. And one more thing, Bateman looks psychotic haha.
Still, Juno is a sweet little gem, which quite reminds me of my favorite indie-road-trip film, Little Miss Sunshine=)