JUNO: FILM REVIEW
**Warning: spoilers ahead.
A coming-of-age film starring Ellen Page as the protagonist, Juno tells the story of a teenager named Juno who goes through an unplanned pregnancy as a result of sleeping with her friend, Paulie Bleeker. While Juno initially wants an abortion, she ultimately decides to give the baby up for adoption to a couple, Mark and Vanessa Loring. However, throughout the film, Mark and Vanessa’s marriage falls apart, as Mark starts developing feelings for Juno and also feels that he is not ready to be a father. At the same time, Juno struggles with her feelings for Paulie, who has remained distant at the request of Juno. Juno realizes that she loves Paulie, and he reciprocates after she confesses her feelings. Soon after, Juno gives birth to her baby. Vanessa rushes to the hospital and pulls out a note that Juno previously slipped under her door, which reads: “Vanessa: If you’re still in, I’m still in.” Vanessa decides to keep the baby and raise it as a single mother, while Juno and Pauli continue to develop their relationship.
Juno is a film driven by the composition of emotions ranging from sweet to sad to hilarious. There’s never a dull or less-than-comedic moment in the film, even though the plot line sometimes requires a serious approach. Although being pregnant at age 16 is without a doubt, a terrifying situation, the film takes on an approach that suggests there could be much unhappier circumstances. In many ways, we feel that the dissipating marriage between Mark and Vanessa Loring is more tragic than Juno’s unplanned pregnancy. The film magnifies moments that seem, at first glance, trivial compared to what else is going on. While Juno deals with the future of her pregnancy, we follow a simultaneous plot line about teenage romance. Paulie is nothing short of sweet, and our heart breaks a little every time Juno neglects her feelings for him. We surprise ourselves when we feel an equivalent amount of concern for a romance between two 16 year olds as we do for Juno’s baby.
Another strength in Juno lies in the effortless performance of its cast. Page expertly portrays a conflicted teen, who, like most adolescents, live by the day to day even in a situation that requires her to do otherwise. J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney play Juno’s parents, who display both support and protectiveness on behalf of Juno’s future. Jason Bateman plays the confused and acts-too-young-for-his-age Mark Loring, married to Vanessa Loring, who is played by the adoring Jennifer Garner. Last but not least, who could forget Michael Cera’s performance as Paulie Bleeker? It seems that Cera was made for this part, as he expertly portrays an awkward, shy teenager who isn’t afraid to be himself. For those obsessed with the show Arrested Development, it is an added treat seeing Bateman and Cera on screen together, although they are never in the same scene.
Juno is not only lovable for its story, but also for its dialogue and cinematography. The script seems to mimic as natural a conversation between two people as one could write on screen. This, paired with cinematography that very much has a disposable camera feel, sucks the audience into the suburban world of Juno. The warm hues of greens, yellows, browns, and most notably, red sweaters, brings comfort to the film and the characters’ teenage experience. Even the quirkiness of Juno’s room stands out, as she uses a hamburger phone to call Paulie and her friends. Not to mention, the soundtrack is as nostalgic as can be, featuring Barry Louis Polisar, The Velvet Underground, and the Kinks, to name a few. Juno is an unforgettable story that is a delight to watch, experience, and connect with in the name of Juno, Paulie, and the Lorings.