Junebug (DVD)

Director Phil Morrison and writer Angus MacLachlan, obviously had a vision for this thing, and it looks like they’ve succeeded in bringing it – fully – to the screen. No compromising gone on here


Amy Adams, Embeth Davidtz, Allesandro Nivola, Benjamin McKenize, Celia Watson, Scott Wilson

You wouldn’t look twice at a worm, right? Once it becomes a butterfly though, now that’s a different story – then, everyone wants to get up close.

Though she’s been sifting about in the soil for years, actress Amy Adams (“Drop Dead Gorgeous”, “Catch Me If You Can”) really only earned her wings – as far as Hollywood’s concerned – when she fronted “Junebug”, a small-movie that went onto big things, like seeing the talented redhead nominated for an Oscar. No Marisa Tomei-sized stuff-up here though, this is one performance that’s definitely worthy of the Kodak theatre’s attention.

With the comedy-drama profusion, Adams got to unleash her full palette of colours, and essentially helped the movie ‘soar’ beyond your atypical proletariat character expose. Her performance in the film is superb. No way around it. She’s adorable. She’s amusing. She’s extremely likeable. But more to the point, you can’t take her eyes off her.

Funnily enough, it’s an ensemble movie too.

The film fundamentally revolves around a woman named Madeline (Embeth Davidtz), a British diplomat’s daughter, who travels from Chicago with her new husband George (Allesandro Nivola) to the rural hill country of North Carolina to chase a neighbourhood, DIY painter (David Wark) for her gallery. Because they’re in the area anyway, Madeline decides to stop by and meet her hubby’s family.

What a wacky little bunch they are: the abovementioned Adams is the standout, playing a very-pregnant and very-chatty woman named Ashley, a chirpy wide-eyed innocent whose determined to name her baby ‘Junebug’ should it be a girl. She won’t leave Madeline alone for a minute – but you can’t despise the girl. She’s too adorable to despise. You simply, well, feel for her – and admire her for still smiling when, as far as we can tell, there’s no real reason to be jovial. Not to mention, want a slice of whatever happy cake she’s eating to take for the ride home.

Then there’s Johnny (Benjamin McKenzie, of “The OC”, again doing a lot with just a few words), who still lives at home, where he’s studying for his high school equivalency certificate. You wouldn’t know it – because he treats his wife like a doormat – but he’s married to Ashley. What an angry, mixed-up young chap he is.

Along with George’s judgemental mother Peg (Celia Weston) and hard-faced father (Scott Wilson), they make for quite an interesting family, as Madeline discovers.

While emphasis does seem to be on extracting the kookiness and humour of the ‘culture clash’, the film does a surprising half-turn into some more dramatic territory later on. It’s far from a mish-mash of genres though, with one remembering just how close ‘laughter’ and ‘tears’ are.

Take the studio stencil of “The Family Stone” – yeah, the comedy where hoity Sarah Jessica Parker is taken home to meet Luke Wilson’s more straight-thinking clan – mix it with some remarkable characters and dialogue (seriously, the talk is priceless – can only imagine how many drafts, and how much polishing, went on here), and splice in some ‘David Lynch’ like visuals of the beauty around us – for instance, a protracted shot of a swarm of bees buzzing over blades of grass, or a quiet suburban street post-ruckus, or a listless fade-out into the next scene.

Yep, this is as Indy as an Indy gets.

And thank god for that, too – otherwise we wouldn’t have had the divine characters we’ve got here, we wouldn’t have gotten so much of that discourse, and the imaginative splicing of ‘nature’ scenes littered throughout the movie? That would undoubtedly have been scattered across an editing room floor somewhere. More to the point though, this is a good movie because it’s a real movie. It speaks nothing but the truth, even if it that means not a lot happens. But in real life, issues aren’t resolved in an hour-and-a-half, and some of the bigger problems (like a wonky marriage) might never be mended. “Junebug” simply takes a snapshot of a family in an unremarkable/just another day phase.

Director Phil Morrison and writer Angus MacLachlan, obviously had a vision for this thing, and it looks like they’ve succeeded in bringing it – fully – to the screen. No compromising gone on here.

But yes, Amy Adams. What a talent. She is one talented little butterfly, it seems – here’s hoping she’s not captured by some green-eyed exec with plans to re-stock his menagerie.

DVD extras include a selection of deleted scenes, casting sessions footage of Adams and McKenzie and some behind-the-scenes footage.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris