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The International Writers Magazine: DVD Review

Directed by Jason Reitman, Starring Ellen Page and Michael Cera
Sophie Berry

"When I see them all running like that, with their things bouncing around in their shorts, I always picture them naked, even if I don’t want to. All I see is pork swords”. Oh, how the mind wanders when you’re a 16-year old.

Juno, however, is no normal 16-year old. After discovering she is pregnant, her life is turned upside down. For the first time she is forced to deal with an ‘adult’ situation and to accept and deal with the consequence of having sex with her oh-so-geeky but entirely loveable best friend, Paulie.  After she decides not to get the baby aborted (due to her picketing friend and relentless waiting room finger clicking), Juno’s only other option is to put it up for adoption which allows for the introduction of a likeable but troubled couple of prospective parents, Mark and Vanessa, whose personal problems act as a catalyst for Juno’s progression from an immature teenager to a young woman. 

Like most coming of age films, the journey of self-development is the most important part of the plot. However, where Juno differs is in the strength, vibrancy and likeability of all the characters in the story, making the sub-plots much more important than usual. For example, when Mark begins to doubt the strength of his relationship with Vanessa, you feel such genuine warmth and heartfelt compassion for the characters that for the time that they’re onscreen, the rest of the plot pales into insignificance and you feel yourself urging them to have a happy ending. 

However, without a doubt, it is the performances by Ellen Page (Juno) and Michael Cera (Paulie) that steal the show. Both performances seem effortless, Juno and Paulie seem as though they are just extensions of Page and Cera’s own personalities. The chemistry between them is wonderful, both incorporating the right amount of suspended teenage angst and desire and the dialogue seems so natural to them you almost don’t believe it was scripted, although it is far too dry and quick-witted for it to ever be real. The performances by J.K Simmons as Juno’s loyal and supportive father, and Allison Janney, as her stepmother, are also outstanding. 

There is a memorable line or phrase in almost every scene, and for that alone, the writer, Diablo Cody, must be praised. But more than that, she’s created a world that every teenager who finds themselves in Juno’s position would wish they were part of.

The soundtrack to the film fits perfectly, it is understated and cool, mostly acoustic and in a flawless film, of course the most memorable track is performed by the two stars.
Juno is a wonderfully constructed piece of cinema, when you’re not laughing you’re crying or wishing you were one of her friends. I would recommend it to absolutely anyone above the age of fifteen. If you haven’t seen this already then you should!

© sophie berry November 2008
Sophie is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth
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