Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ellen Page, Juno

I have to admit I don't really care that much about Juno. But writing about it won't kill me, sometimes the diversity of quality (IMO) makes the race more interesting. We can't always have just good sh!t. So I'm cheering up because I don't have anything personal with Ellen Page. I actually think she does the best she can given the material...

approximately 79 minutes and 41 seconds

86, 8% of the film


Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child. The 'unusual' decision is not to have an abortion, but to give it to a nice couple.

I have always considered Pretty Woman to be a very 'toxic' movie. :) It's a movie that makes you think (as a kid or a teenager) that's it's ok to be a prostitute wearing a vulgar mini-dress and kitchy wig because there's always gonna be a Richard Gere - handsom, rich, good intentions - that's gonna make you an honest woman.

Well, it's almost the same with Juno. It might not be the specific message, but the idea is that's it ok to be 16 and pregnant, because the parents will be cool about it, the teachers & colleagues won't mind, the baby will find a great mother and you: a super sweet boyfriend. Now who needs safe sex...

Bottomline is: great soundtrack, nice direction from Jason Reitman, great supporting cast; and some good one-liners. But the screenplay as a whole - NO. Diablo Cody (the writer) kills it for me by going over-the-top with the dialogue. And it won Best Original Screenplay; oh, you voters!

Ellen Page as Juno MacGuff

Juno is almost a tomboy: jeans, masculine, smart-ass attitute, being sarcastic all the time. There she is: drinking orange juice from a plastic bottle, suspecting the inevitable: she's pregnant, after trying sex with this nerdy, yet sweet & innocent looking friend (great Michael Cera).

But writer Diablo Cody loses no time. Even from the first scenes, she has crazy unreadable lines forced on her leading character. Using a strange voice, Ellen Page tries to reproduce lines like "Silencio, old man" or going through an unnatural phone dialogue with her best friend.

This should be a really emotional time for the characters, but we don't really feel that from the lines. So here is where Ellen Page comes in, trying to take her character in a more vulnerable direction. With a couple of close-ups she makes the character human again.

It's here where I get to see the real Juno and I give credit to Ellen Page for letting down the smart-ass guard of the character. In the abortion clinic, she decides she wants to give birth to the baby.

But then again, here she is juggling with the lines, making the character of Juno look like a clown, with no layers to it, just smart-ass words.

So the months pass by and she gets bigger and Juno must also find herself in less pleasant situations. She's jealous when the guy who got her pregnant has a date to the prom. And, more important, the harmony of the couple that wants to adopt her baby is breaking apart.

A crisis situation & some tears (done great, because as I said, she good at vulnerable, emotional moments).

But not to worry, things work out for Juno in the end. Obviously, what did you think this was? 4 months, 3 weeks & 2 days?

Now I'm not sure how I should rate the performance. I didn't like the smart-ass-normal-Juno-moments, but I really felt connected to the character in the vulnerable & truthful short scenes. Anyway, lots of potential for this 20 y.o. actress.

At first, I wanted to go for a 2/5, but as I'm feeling rather generous with the 2nd viewing, I'm giving to Ellen Page.

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Cosmin said...

Juno's like both Gilmore Girls combined when she's throwing all those rapid smart-ass lines. Now Ellen might seem to be blabbering too much and a little bit unnatural at that but that's Juno the sarcastic teenager putting on a bravado show that sometimes falls apart and you get the humanized, sensible version of her. So that's actually what's adding layers to her. Without that what would you get? A Hallmark-full-of-sobs kind of movie? No teenager would watch that!
All in all, a fair rating.

Alex in Movieland said...

without a doubt, she's better than the screenplay given to her.

p.s.: may I ask how did you find the blog? through stinkylulu or through romeo.

Cosmin said...

I wish I could say stinkylulu, it's much more interesting there. But, alas, 'twas through Romeo.

Alex in Movieland said...

ok. :) thx

Danny King said...

This is an awesome film. While I do agree with you that Page is better than the script, that doesn't mean it's a bad script. Page is just so good that she rises above everyone else. She is the main reason to see this film, a remarkable performance.

Alex in Movieland said...

Ellen is ok; is just not really my type of acting (or writing). I've grown a bit more into Juno since last year. but just a bit.

what I do die for and still listen to is the killer soundtrack! :)