A Rebel Called Juno

junoposter2007.jpgJuno Mac Guff: I could like, have this baby and give it to someone who like totally needs it.
Leah: You should look in the Penny-Saver.
Juno Mac Guff: They have ads for parents?
Leah: Yeah! ‘Desperately Seeking Spawn.’

Rip-roaringly hilarious and sensitive is Juno. Juno released in India with truck loads of cuts and unnecessary bleeps. The experience, however, remains unforgettable.

Directed by Jason Reitman, Juno is a quirky comedy in the same league as Little Miss Sunshine, but subtly darker than the former.

The story revolves around a woman who is not afraid to express herself and face up to the world. Never without a comment is the rebel – a dynamite when it comes to revolting against the world and the norms set by society. The plot focuses on Juno’s relationship with her boyfriend Bleeker who, apparently, is a “boss” when it comes to boyfriends; her father; her step mother and her best friend and partner in crime Leah.

Juno Mac Guff (Ellen Page) is a typical punk rock loving “girl next door”. The very first dialogue : “It all started with a chair” leaves the audience blushing and fighting for breath at the same time. Juno walks to drug store in the opening montage, accompanied by the credits and a pencil sketched drawing of Juno’s journey to the drugstore. She asks for a home pregnancy stick; not satisfied with her previous result because the plus sign looked more like a division. The audience learns about Juno’s pregnancy with few very artfully choreographed back-flashes and voiceover telling us how boredom and an inane attraction towards her best friend Bleeker (Michael Cera) caused an event, which she revels in and resents at the same time.

She decides to end her pregnancy by aborting and then very casually utters the most hilarious dialogue in the entire film : “Hi, I am calling to procure a hasty abortion”.
On learning that eight week old babies have fingernails and “unborn babies deserve to be borned”, she decides against the abortion. With prompting from her best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby), she confesses to her parents about her unfortunate state and tells them that in “30 weeks we will never know it happened”.

Juno’s father played by J.K. Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson in Spiderman) very calmly accepts the fact and decides to help her along as she chooses parents for her unborn child.
Juno chooses a suburban couple- Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) – whom she finds on the penny-saver page in a local newspaper. She opts for a closed adoption- “kicking it old testament”, choosing to give up her child without any further contact or information.

Dealing with the world and the scorn, Juno fights life and prejudices to find her own way. She leads life on her standards and her beliefs, standing by her decisions she finds a way to smile even in the most depressing situations.

The film, towards the end, follows Juno’s reformed relationship with her Step-mother, her best friend and Mark as a confidant. Mark oddly feels attracted to this teenage rebel with a chip on her shoulder. The movie flirts with a developing relationship between Mark and Juno which might make certain sections of the audience cringe.

Juno is mature cinema, directed towards a niche audience- mainly young adults- focusing on the issue of teenage pregnancy. It addresses, with much wit and fun, the seriousness of a situation which sometimes is brought about by stupid decisions.

Ellen Page is enigmatic and funny; her comic timing is brilliant and screen presence heart warming. She, I feel, has hammed up unnecessarily in certain scenes which could be handled with a little more finesse. J.K. Simmons as the father is perfect, his speech towards the conclusion sums up a lot about relationships, marriages, divorces and even parent-child relationships in the current generation. The music is simply mind-blowing, snappy tracks and very interesting lyrics make for an interesting viewing experience.

This piece of good cinema, unfortunately, did not create as many waves as it could have in India, since the topic of sex and teenage pregnancy is still taboo. The truth remains that it is as much prevalent in the west as it is here.

I watched this movie twice and I still could laugh at the jokes. A fresh film, something different and serious, at the same time very witty. I loved every minute of this heartwarming story, I hope you will too.

Patanjali Pahwa

[image courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Junoposter2007.jpg]