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USA 2007
Directed by
Jason Reitman
92 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Andrew Lee
4 stars


Synopsis: When Juno (Ellen Page) discovers she’s pregnant to her best friend Bleeker (Michael Cera), she can’t decide what to do. Unable to go through with an abortion, her friend Leah suggests adopting the child to a couple who want one. When she meets the Loring’s (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) it all seems settled, but she is about to learn that adults have as many problems as teenagers.

Some films are so charming you just hate them. Cloyingly sweet, they just try too hard. Then there are films like Juno, irresistibly charming and that’s all there is to it. Witty, human and well-observed, Juno is an impressively fresh take on the teen pregnancy storyline. Throw in well-written characters, a situation that realistically veers between laughter and tears, and a few home truths that accurately describe the difference between being an adult and a child and you’ve got a winner.

Ellen Page is a remarkable actress. She plays Juno as a girl intelligent enough to string together abstract ideas and argue the merits of punk rock over grunge but who is also immature and only slowly coming to realize the limitations of her experience. There’s a difference between being able to diagnose everyone’s problems and being able to work out your own. The push and pull between thinking you’re wiser than everyone else, and learning that everyone is just as confused as you is expertly carried off here thanks to the discerning touch of director, Jason Reitman. In Thank You For Smoking (2005), Reitman took a broad-brush approach to his comedy. But there was one scene, in which Aaron Eckhart convinces a former cigarette spokesman with cancer to take a suitcase of cash instead of speaking out against the tobacco industry. The scene always stuck in my head. It showed he knew how to balance humour, tension and humanity. Here we have a film that pays off on that nascent skill.

Juno is the kind of film that makes it look easy. It never tries to be clever, never veers out of its own thoroughly-defined reality. It just flows along for its short runtime and then finishes, having told a story in which you can relate to and understand pretty much everyone it introduces you to. Diablo Cody’s script is the backbone to this seeming effortlessness, with cracking dialogue and a slightly surreal situation that never pushes into unreality. It’s an hysterically funny, compassionate and honest story. Supported by excellent actors and a gifted director, this is one where everything is firing on all cylinders.




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