Friday, 5 February 2010

I mean, I'm already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into?

No 463 - Juno
Director - Jason Reitman

There are some films which are just cool. In which every element of it seems perfectly thought out and deliberately placed to make the film more cool. If it is done well it feels natural and organic, if it is done badly it will just feel like it is trying too hard.
Juno is an effortlessly cool film, it just feels like the world of Juno MacGuff is cooler than normal. It is echoed by the film. Everything, from the casting to the phrasing to the brilliant use of props (I, for one, would love to find a friend of mine smoking a pipe in a makeshift living room on my front lawn).

I think that this film's main benefit is in the casting. Every character is perfect and practically every character is dripping with an acidic wit.
It also helps that I love almost all the actors in this film. I realise that there is a strong risk that I could just repeat the words cool and love over and over again. I will try not to though as I talk about the cast. Starting with the titular Juno.

I think Ellen Page is a brilliant actress and very very cute. She is just adorable. In no film has she conveyed this more perfectly than in Juno. Page's little baby face, combined with Juno's acerbic wit and effortless cool, creates a character which is really easy to fall in love with... I took my mum to watch this at the cinema and she loved Juno's character and subsequently agreed that Ellen Page is both fabulous and adorable. She wanted to watch more of her films. I tried to push X-Men 3 (something I never thought I would do). I failed. We watched Hard Candy. Not a film you can easily watch with your mother. Not a film you can easily watch full stop.
However, as a double bill it shows the amazing range Ellen Page can play.

As Juno gets bigger and pregnanter, the tininess of Ellen Page becomes more and more evident, which makes her even more adorable.
She is a wonderful protagonist. Flitting between cock-sure arrogance, innocent naivety and unprepared terror. She is a fully three dimensional, utterly flawed, captivating character. She is the kind of person I wish I was friends with. I love her world view - I know I've already mentioned it... but... SHE HAS A PIPE. She may not smoke it (which is good, she is pregnant after all) but the fact that she has one as an accessory is aces mc-aces. Her character is only enriched by the rest of her cast.

I don't know where to start as almost every character in this film is worth mentioning. Even minor roles like Rollo, the shop keeper and Su-Chin protesting outside of the abortion clinic steal the show for their few seconds on screen.
Su-Chin's bad English just highlights her comical adorable nature whilst almost every line uttered by Rollo is comedy gold. My particular favourite line So what's the prognosis, Fertile Myrtle? - probably the best line in a film full of ridiculously self conscious lingo (which appears to be a token part of Diablo Codey's writing).

I think I shall speak about the characters who surround her. Leah is a typical teen (though made more interesting by her wonderfully bizarre perversion towards teachers) with an excellent attitude but not much else going for her character. She certainly pales in comparison when compared to Juno's parents.
They are helped by being played by two truly brilliant actors. Firstly Mac MacGuff played by the fabulous JK Simmonds - the man who single handedly made Spiderman great. Whenever he crops up in any film it makes me smile and in this film he is one of the film's key strengths. His character is made even stronger by the clear love he has towards his daughter. There is a beautiful chemistry between Mac and Juno. A love, mixed with an undercurrent of hurt worry (only natural considering his child has got pregnant) and a strong strong protective streak. It is lovely to behold.
Simmons can create wonderful relationships everywhere. See the protective love towards his daughter and compare it with the comfortable relaxed romance he shares with Juno's stepmother Bren. I know Allison Janney as the fabulously inappropriate Ms Perky in 10 Things I Hate You. However, you may know her as CJ from the West Wing - a character who is also, so I've been told, very cool.
The two of them, Bren and Mac, are such a fabulous pair, and you can see Juno's character in their laid back and sarcastic conversations.

This is a film which looks at how the course of true love never does run smooth. Mac has had a divorce (or is, perhaps, a widower - it is never really explained) but is happy with his second wife. The two have a wonderful relationship.
RICHARD NOTE - My friend Richard has rightfully pointed out that the situation with Juno's Mother IS explained. they are divorced and she sends a cactus every year. Silly old Tim.

Finally, we have Bleeker. The character who is responsible for the entire movie, the character who impregnated Juno. The love interest. Paulie Bleeker is played by Michael Cera, I can't state just how brilliant he is.
His bumbling hesitant awkwardness is a delight. I think 2010 will be a big year for Michael Cera. Youth in Revolt looks fabulous - Cera's moustache is a particular joy. Whilst the one shot of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World which has been released shows him with a FLAMING SWORD. That is pretty damned cool.
Here, Bleeker is seemingly punished continuously for his one act. As he tries to continue his life, confused by the events which occur before the film's start. He isn't really involved in the main body of the film. He is the love interest and whilst his and Juno's relationship is an important part of the film, it is not an important of the plot.

I feel like all I'm doing is listing characters in the film. But they are the film's strength, the film's key point. The final two characters I want to discuss are the pair of Vanessa and Mark Loring (played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman). The pair's relationship is fascinating. Vanessa longs for a baby and her initial desperation masks her character. She comes off as neurotic and a pain but over the film you see how eager she is to have a child. That eagerness becomes something beautiful.
Likewise, Mark's casual laissez-faire attitude begins as quite a cool character trait. Until you realise what an inappropriate coward he is. Then your loyalties change... the character development in this film is superb. The arcs are so well done that you care for the characters. You can't help but feel let down by Mark.

This, in the end, is the main crux of the film. It shows how the process of having a baby affects the people involved. Everyone changes in this film. Whether subtly or fundamentally, the act affects everyone. That is what the film is about.
For all the wit and pithy one liners. This is a film about how a baby changes everything and everyone.

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