Juno – out now

This Academy Award winning teen comedy drama blindsided people when it appeared, apparently from out of nowhere last year, winning over US audiences with its unconventional handling of teenage pregnancy, sharp comic dialogue, and gentle-yet-deliberate pacing.

The titular heroine, 16 year old high school attendee Juno MacGuff, discovers she is pregnant by her longtime friend, boy-next-door type Paulie, and initially intends to have an abortion. After deciding against, she then begins making arrangements for a closed adoption.

Juno, ably played by Ellen Page, (who shot to fame in 2005’s Hard Candy), enlists the help of her best friend Leah (Olivia Thirby) in looking for potential adoptive parents in local papers (“They have ‘Desperately Seeking Spawn,’ right next to the pet ads,”). They eventually come across affluent couple Mark and Vanessa Loring, (Jason Bateman of Teen Wolf Too fame, and Alias star Jennifer Garner, respectively). Vanessa, it appears is desperate to have a child, whereas Mark maybe isn’t so sure.

Much has been made of the film’s dialogue, which is either whip-smart and wonderfully acerbic or obtuse and contrived depending on how you look at it – “honest to blog” being the most widely derided line. Basically, Juno is a strong-willed, opinionated gobshite teenager who manages to keep a stiff upper lip whilst struggling with her feelings towards the father of her child, whom she appears to coldly sideline for a good half of the movie, the mixed feelings of the couple she will be eventually giving her child up to, and just being 16 years old. Only once does her resolutely vertical backbone bow, when she breaks down in tears on the pavement outside the Loring’s home as their marriage disintegrates.

Personally, I didn’t enjoy this movie as much as I’d hoped, possibly because an indie rock snob streak is deeply ingrained into my psyche and I don’t much care for the music of The Moldy Peaches nor twee-core acoustic guitar rock in general (which makes up a substantial percentage of the soundtrack) but there is no denying that the film is fresh, intelligently plotted, and miles apart from the typical high school teenage comedy affair, a breath of fresh air in itself.

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