11.9.09

Movie Review: In Juno (2007) Jason Reitman Attempts to Make Us Feel Genuine Emotion

Juno
(starring Ellen Page and Michael Cera)
Maybe it was director Jason Reitman's sleight of hand that actually got to me rather than genuine sentiment, but I have begun to distrust how a film makes me feel. I have acquired an impervious lamella toward film; I had seen Juno back in 2007 and found this review that I had never posted. Literature to me has become false emotional catharsis (probably comes from reading way too much film theory) but it probably actually has more to do with the fact that most films really SUCK at pulling off true human emotion. Probably the last great American movie of genuine, gut-wrench sentiment was Ordinary People. But, for the most part, American movies are saccharine sweet and two-dimensional.

After that scathing report on American Cinema, I will not actually talk about Juno
I have to admit, though, the first ten minutes did not reel me in as I thought it would, based on the Ebert review I did in fact read. The film too much reminded me of Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tennenbaums, that I was afraid that the film would never rise about the artifice of clever dialogue and impeccable mise-en-scene. A Wes Anderson flick is so obsessive compulsive in set design, that it is as if the props were meant to be fetishistic totems rather than set pieces.
Jennifer Garner's character Vanessa aspires to be the mother
of the child of a pregnant teenager (played by Ellen Page) 
I thought I was getting way too deep into the Anderson kitsch with this film, especially when the titular character (Ellen Page), a newly impregnated teen, her adolescent tummy bulging deliberately to smack the viewer in the face, chugs a cheery load of Sunny D and lashes out smart-ass comebacks to the convenience store clerk (a great cameo by Rainn Wilson). Wilson spouts out snappy one-liners when the knocked-up teen shows up to buy a home pregnancy test: “That ain't no Etch-A-Sketch. This is one doodle that can't be un-did, Homeskillet. ” Those lines alone should be placed on the Hollywood walk of fame or something.
Not to ruin anything, there are no spoilers here, but I thought the most affecting scene in the entire film is Jennifer Garner, the would-be mother, placing her head to Juno’s belly to hear the baby move. That to me made the film. Oh, if every film had such a moment of sheer beauty, I will want to embrace cinema again and perhaps re-love catharsis.

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