Junebug

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First looking at the plot of “Junebug”, I grimaced. It sounded like just about every other Indie film before it- a family of eccentric characters begins to fall apart (cue a filler of dark comedy) but in the end miraculously learn, through some tragedy or family crisis, how much they love and respect each other. Hugging, montages, and a background of moody alternative rock ensue.

But I gave it the benefit of the doubt, anyway. I'm glad I did.

First off, this isn't a movie about a family falling apart. It's moreso about what happens after they've been broken for many, many years. We see a cold, borderline unloving household where the only ray of sunshine comes from Ashley, a pregnant girl who is unhappily married to the reclusive and unaffectionate Johnny. The matriarch, Peg, is strict and controlling, while her husband, Eugene, becomes weary and detached- though still believes that somewhere in his wife is the woman he married.

When their other son, George, returns home newly married to Madeline, an 'outsider' art exhibitor from Chicago, a balance is challenged and the true meaning of 'family' is tossed into the air.

As all this is going on, I see the characters flourish and grow in front of me. The actors played their parts like real, three-dimensional people with heart and substance. Considering how rare something like that is nowadays, I was both amazed and delighted at the sincerity in which the entire ensemble pulled it off.

But the most shining performance came from Amy Adams as Ashley, who's character's optimism seems to have actually grown despite her cold environment. Her well-played wide-eyed enthusiasm and eagerness to please makes me alternately love and pity her, as she is the only splash of colour in a shades-of-gray household.

The music, or lack thereof, fits perfectly with the scenes. Sometimes, the only thing holding a scene up is thick silence. Other times a light, jaunty tune might be floating around in the background.

I loved each road this movie went down. Even the predictable plot devices seemed fresh, and the twists that I didn't expect were even more delightful. You will laugh, cry, and feel for it's wide array of characters as they try to grow together as a family, and even if they may not come out on top, that's life. And that's “Junebug”- true to life.





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