(Sorry for the lack of a video version of this review, but I’m currently visiting in LA) 2007 has actually been a pretty good year for some solid cinema. Yes there have been some (ok a lot of) stinkers, but also some amazing films. And at the risk of blowing the suspense of the review, I think I may have just seen the best movie of the year. Ladies and gentlemen, Juno really is that damn good. A few of my friends caught screenings of it at the Toronto International Film Festival this year and just raved about it… I thought it looked boring. Yeah… they were right and I was WRONG.
THE GENERAL IDEA
From the sysopsis on IMDB: “Juno (Ellen Page) is a Mid-Western highschooler, who decides one day, out of boredom or curiosity, to have sex with her friend Bleeker (Michael Cera), a member of her school’s track team. She likes him well enough, but isn’t hung up on him. This one time encounter results in Juno’s pregnancy. She and her best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby) decide to take control of the situation by browsing for prospective adoptive parents in the local Pennysaver, and Juno settles on seemingly perfect, affluent couple Mark and Vanessa (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner.)”
This movie lives, breaths and is completely carried by the single strongest performance by any actress this year. Ellen Page not only turns in the best performance by an actress this year… but quite possibly one of the best I’ve ever seen for an actress her age. No one ever wants to say something like that regarding a comedy… but the pure fact of the matter is she sells you on this character. She forces you to love her and LIKE her all at the same time. She infuses so much charm and agony and pain and confusion and hilarity at once that you can’t help but be completely drawn into her struggle as a 16 year old girl attempting to navigate a pregnancy all while trying to wrestle with choices “way beyond her maturity level”. This was an Oscar worthy performance by an actress who has just put Hollywood on notice. She was (and I hardly EVER use this word) PERFECTION. There… I said it. The performance give by Page was nothing short of pure, brilliant, amazing PERFECTION.
The dialog in the film is so witty and yet real at the same time. So much true emotion, so much awkwardness and yet so direct at the same time. This was truly a dialog and character driven movie. Most will reflect on the hilarity of the dialog (for good reason), but I was enthralled by the humanity of it. Such a rare and beautiful thing for a comedy of this nature, and pulled off with total perfection.
I’ve already mentioned that Ellen Page carries this film… but that’s not to take away from the job of her supporting cast. All of them… and damn I mean ALL of them were incredible. I’ve never seen Jason Bateman better. Jennifer Garner plays a completely different character than we’ve ever seen her in. Michael Cera was solid. JK Simmons is always great so nothing further need be said. Allison Janney steals almost every scene she’s in and Olivia Thirlby was a perfect “best friend” for Juno. It was an inspired performance by all involved.
Jason Reitman has quickly become my favorite new director. Proving that his triumph with “Thank You For Smoking” was no fluke, Reitman unfolds Juno like a master storyteller. The pacing in the film was perfect (there’s that word again), the structure was perfect, the character development was perfect. He put together such a gentle, touching and hilarious story that I feel like I’m in his debt.
I guess the only complaint I have about Juno is that the “quirky” music started to get on my nerves. The one song was cute… but it’s like people think it’s cool to have bad music in a movie…. but it’s not.
Ummmm… I feel like I should put more here…. uhh…. there could have been more giant robots. yeah… that’s it… there weren’t enough giant robots destroying cities.
So far… I think I have to say Juno is the best film of 2007. I may reflect on that a little bit more in the coming weeks… but my first impression is that this is the best film of the year. I’m floored by it… there just aren’t enough good things I can say about it. I can’t stop thinking about it. So screw it… for only the 4th time in my career I’m going to do it… I’m giving Juno a 10 out of 10. Go see it.