My 100 favourite films. Entry #32: Junebug.

Junebug (2005)
written by Angus MacLachlan
directed by Phil Morrison
starring Alessandro Nivola, Embeth Davidtz, Ben McKenzie and Amy Adams
country: usa
genre: drama

Visuals: 9
Writing: 8
Everyday watchability: 6

Let's start with this: I cried while watching this movie. For those who know me, this is no small feat. Furthermore, it made me cry while I was eating a sandwich. That takes something.

After that, I'm not sure where to start. The imagery perhaps? The performances? The structure?

I'll start with this. Junebug is a film that recognizes that life is made up as much from the small, seemingly insignificant moments as it is the epiphanies and big turning points. Shots of trees, driveways and empty rooms pepper the film with the feeling of the everyday and mundane. Shots of a father blowing up an air mattress for his returning child seem to linger too long, first on his frame, then on the mattress. I say "too long," but the timing is perfect. Things move slowly in this world, much as they do in ours. When the important moments happen however, we are very aware of them. A key scene involves George, who has come home with his big-city wife Madeleine to small-town North Carolina, singing a hymn. Madeleine has never heard George sing before, and she is clearly blown away; not for his singing ability, but for the soul and passion in his voice.

The acting is astounding as well. Amy Adams plays a dumb-as-paint but sweet-as-candy southern girl who's 8.5 months pregnant. Despite her dimwittedness, she's the only one of her family that seems to know that they're going about life all wrong. Near the end of the film, she states that she had hoped for a baby because she "wanted something good to come out of all of this."

Celia Weston plays a domineering, passive-aggressive mother who has almost no heart. Her husband claims that's not how she is inside, but it's impossible to believe him. She undercuts everyone at all times, except possibly her son, who she describes to his face as perfect, making him laugh out loud. It's another moment in a film full of meaning for the viewer to glean. Nothing's handed on a silver platter. You have to work to get it. I still don't get it really, and that's why I love it.


2 comment(s).:

December 26, 2009 at 11:51 PM Sea of Love... ...forthelackofwords said...

i connected really strongly to this film also.
this film made me fall in love with amy adams. she is a vessel indeed.

your writing quality inspires my own.

go team!

January 20, 2010 at 3:02 AM evan uri parsons said...

whilst perusing your blog i noticed that you have listed rian johnson as the director and writer of junebug. however, this is not the case. junebug was directed by phil morrison. and the writer, who is named angus maclachlan, is clearly scottish.
angus, originally a gaelic name, shares his name with one of the 32 local government council areas of scotland, and a lieutenancy area. the council area borders onto aberdeenshire, perth and kinross and dundee city. the main industries in angus include agriculture and fishing.
this area is well populated, with the larger towns and the city of dundee on the coast. in between lies strathmore, gaelic for "the great valley", which is a fertile agricultural area noted for the growing of potatoes, soft fruit and the raising of angus cattle.
hope all is well,
evan uri parsons