the fresh films reviews

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Juno (2007)

Jason Reitman
96 minutes
Lianne Halfon
John Malkovich
Mason Novick
Russell Smith
Diablo Cody

Cast includes:

Juno Ellen Page
Paulie Bleeker Michael Cera
Vanessa Loring Jennifer Garner
Mark Loring Jason Bateman
Bren MacGuff Allison Janney
Mac MacGuff J. K. Simmons
Leah Olivia Thirlby
Lab Partner Steven Christopher Parker



Juno. Delicate, boyish, precocious, tender, weird, immature Juno. And pregnant Juno, not to forget. The premise is not unfamiliar: Teenage girl has sex with teenage boy and becomes pregnant. The process that follows such an inherently natural incident is a circus - both here and I would believe in any western society in this 21st century. A valid and timely implicit social satire from the brand new filmmaking team of Jason Reitman (director) and Diablo Cody (screenwriter). Juno's suburban high-school life is far from Jean M. Auel territory, but what Juno and Ayla have in common is their level-headed and problem solving nature. Juno is confident too (almost annoyingly so), but this gives her the independence to challenge some worked-in mechanisms of both the youth culture and the grown-up world she's a member of.

Juno is a refreshing film. More in tone and angle than in subject-matter. But dealing with teens and sex ostensibly "from the inside", it comes off as more level-headed and insightful than most of its sub-genre competitors - without sacrificing the humour or the authenticity. Sure, these kids seem a bit too intelligent and have a bit too many intellectual punchlines up their sleeve, but this is balanced by the immense talent of Michael Cera in a wonderfully subdued role.

The performances are fine all around, by the way - from J. K. Simmons pal dad, through Allison Janney's zealous mom (a type of mom I've seen more than a handful of), to Jennifer Garner's tormentingly baby-desperate Vanessa. Ellen Page - whom I hailed for her talent, but not for her focus in Hard Candy - is more in her element here, bouncing off of supporters and obstacles alike like a carefree pinball, and rubbing off quite a bit of charm in the process. Her interplay with Jason Bateman is crucial for the film's effect, and they manage to convey the ambivalence in their relation while maintaining the necessary amount of implicative.

It is nice to finally see an American film about teenagers which feels like it is made from the kids point of view and aimed at anyone who might be interested, and which still doesn't go over the top or becomes tacky. Juno cannot quite refrain from being showy and a little bit pop, but in some ways this is a relief. Jason Reitman (son of the skilful Ivan) shows that he both understands the people he's depicting and has something refreshingly uncorrupted to offer - kind of like John Hughes in his early years.

Copyright 17.2.2008 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang