I tend to protect myself from movies I believe will upset me. If it’s about an animal likely to die, for instance, I don’t go to see it. (And believe me about this, too: if something bad happens to an animal in a movie, that *is* what the movie is about for me.) If I know it will be violent, I’m not going. There are very few exceptions (I really like Denzel Washington, for instance, and he is in a lot of violent movies, so I’ve seen some of his, but due to my propensity for picking up his colorful expressions in those movies, even jokingly, my husband has banned going to Denzel’s movies in the theatre. Naturally he can’t do much about my Netflix list when he is out of town. (I really hope this reads as funny, because it is.))
Anyway, and if you think I’m on some level avoiding writing about the movie I actually saw yesterday you may be onto something, I went to see Juno yesterday, which was a bold move, because I do not like to watch movies about adoption.
Let me sum up first, then describe later. I will never hear "Sea of Love" the same way again. The sequence in which it is played (this is a spoiler, so look away and if you don’t, you clearly aren’t paying attention to me now or to the title of this post, so that’s no longer my problem) begins with Juno in her hospital bed, her erstwhile boyfriend spooning with her, with a voiceover about how neither of them wanted to see the baby because he didn’t feel like theirs, with a transition to a bunch of babies lying in their little Lucite bassinets? That killed me. I was already tearful, but that killed me. I began to sob, noisily. Good chance it was embarrassing for my daughter, but since she talked me into going to the movie all of a sudden without proper prep time, she may have brought it on herself.
Also, thanks so much, scriptwriter, for giving the baby a due date that is my birthday. Just sayin’.
On a more sane note, here is what The Princess said about it. "It’s a movie about how things happen to people and you shouldn’t judge them just because of those things. It’s a movie about accepting people for who they are."
She told me that ahead of time. And I agree, it’s pretty much about that, when it isn’t about ripping Songbird’s heart out of her chest and stirring up all her abandonment issues.
And because that is what it’s about, it’s really a movie about a girl who sticks out (figuratively, although of course literally, eventually, too), and the way she becomes more individuated, and the relationships that matter to her along the way.
It’s not much of a movie about adoption. Adoption is a plot device, just as the pregnancy is. Both raise the stakes for the heroine in her journey to know who she is and who she loves.
As her father says:
In my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you
for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome,
what have you, the right person will still think the sun shines out
your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.
Much as I love that line, I have a lot of problems with the script, aside from the adoption stuff, about which my friend Lisa V wrote eloquently, and so I’ll let her say it for me, because that’s the part I’m having a hard time focusing on, so go here and see. Well, go anyway, but let me just add this. I am so used to thinking of my conception as a mistake that the whole mythology of mistakes and deserving adoptive parents is woven into my guts. In my sane mind, I know there is more to it, but in my belly, I’m right there with this whole concept and just want some parent, somewhere, to want and love me.
Ugh, that hurt and sounded way unevolved. That’s how deep this goes.
Back to the script:
First, do you know teenagers who talk that way? All the time? Maybe I am sheltered, or spoiled by children who have absorbed all the Highbrow Family Values around here.
Second, as a person who is pro-choice, I was really disappointed in the portrayal of the women’s health clinic. I mean, maybe I am just under the influence of living in a liberal haven of women’s health care, but boysenberry you-know-whats?
Third, this is not about the script, but about the acting that overcame it. J.K. Simmons and Alison Janney are way too big for this little movie, but I loved them anyway. I loved how they talked to Juno and to each other. Don’t get me started about how unrealistic it was for the dad to go and visit the potential adoptive parents and be so blithe about the whole thing. On a related note, I adore Jennifer Garner in this part.
Fourth, the few non-emotional moments of film enjoyment for me were provided by Jason Bateman in that blue sweater. Then he turned skeevy, and that was disappointing.
Fifth, the one thing I did like in the script was the father grasping for the right word to describe how wrong it would be for Juno to date while pregnant.
Sixth, Ellen Page and Michael Cera were wonderful.
And seventh and last, I loved the music. I sort of want to hear it all again, but I don’t want to cry like that anytime soon.
Your comments welcome.