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POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Embeth Davidtz
Alessandro Nivola
Ben McKenzie
Amy Adams.
Directors
Phil Morrison.
Screenwriters
Angus MacLachlan.
Running Time
119 minutes

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Junebug
Highlight of this year's indie calendar, starring Oscar-nominated Amy Adams.


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Plot
On the trail of an eccentric artist in North Carolina, a recently wed Chicago gallery owner (Davidtz) gets to meet her new family. But while her pregnant sister-in-law (Adams) gushes with enthusiasm, the rest of the household afford a more muted welcome.


Review
Junebug

The movie business lives and dies by hype. Few American films are released in this country without a glut of attendant ballyhoo, which seeks to cover column inches in tabloids with trivial features about the stars of a picture that will be forgotten within weeks of its opening. So, it’s always doubly delightful to stumble across a picture that is not only an enjoyable surprise, but which also contains a star-in-the-making whom the more sensationalist media is yet to tarnish with cheap celebrity.

Amy Adams lights up Phil Morrison’s pleasingly understated study of clashing cultures and backwater frustration. Yet she never seeks to outshine her co-stars, who seem content to bask in her glow. Heavily pregnant and hooked on the fashion tips and tittle-tattle she reads in chic lifestyle magazines, she seizes on Embeth Davidtz’s city sophisticate with an excitement that’s charmingly tinged with tactless inelegance. Yet, she’s much more than a provincial wannabe; she is genuinely devoted to her moody, underachieving husband (McKenzie) and exhibits a touching sense of acceptance whenever her dreams are cruelly dashed.

Her vibrant performance contrasts sharply with that of Alessandro Nivola, as Davidtz’s younger husband. The reason for his reluctance to return to his dysfunctional homestead is left to speculation. This intriguing vagueness becomes a source of frustration as his introspection begins to seem like impulsiveness rather than the result of a crucial psychological suppression.

Davidtz’s dealings with artist Frank Hoyt Taylor also feel occasionally contrived, as the director tries to teach her the importance of family — whether it comes in the form of a gold-digging sister (Joanne Pankow) or a mother-in-law (Celia Weston) whose hostility is born out of midlife broodiness. But much of the film’s wincingly wry humour comes from Davidtz’s determinedly gracious, but consistently condescending attempts to come to terms with her situation, most notably during a late-night bid to help McKenzie with a college book report.

Morrison laces the action with equally adroit sequences (the church social, the baby shower) which suggest that, despite Adams’ aspirations, most of the locals are content with their lot, and he poignantly stresses this gentle tension between backyard and big city during the conflicted Nivola’s affectionate bedside chat with Adams, which confirms that she’s a talent to watch.


Verdict
The scenario may be overly familiar, but the low-key approach and engaging performances make this an unexpected delight.


Reviewed by David Parkinson

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Junebug
Empire Star Rating

Adams is great

I remember her as far back as Drop Dead Gorgeous and I look forward to Enchanted. All the performances are good and it's subtle in its humour but since nothing seems to change by the end you wonder what the point of the film was. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Caster at 14:36, 17 February 2008 | Report This Post


A little too languid for my taste ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 17:35, 27 January 2007 | Report This Post


Agreed!

I agree with your reviewer, one of those nice little films about a family (don't call it a family film) that entertains as well as moves. Junebug is full of those real life moments where you watch someone getting it wrong with someone and you can't say a thing, and for me the ambiguous nature of the rift between Johnny and George added intriguing layers in a similar way to the ending of Broken Flowers (if you found that too frustrating, then you may want to avoid this). Nothing more to s... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by enemysprout at 11:49, 14 January 2007 | Report This Post


What David Said..

I agree with your reviewer, one of those nice little films about a family (don't call it a family film) that entertains as well as moves. Junebug is full of those real life moments where you watch someone getting it wrong with someone and you can't say a thing, and for me the ambiguous nature of the rift between Johnny and George added intriguing layers in a similar way to the ending of Broken Flowers (if you found that too frustrating, then you may want to avoid this). Nothing more to s... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by enemysprout at 11:44, 14 January 2007 | Report This Post


Junebug

I bought this on DVD a few days ago on the strength of the reviews and the clips I'd seen and I'm glad I did. Great little film and the two brothers in it are brilliant, not quiet as good as Amy Adams but close. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by edensands at 15:54, 25 August 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Junebug

one else saw this film! *is upset* ... More

Posted by Empitomezzo at 22:44, 13 July 2006 | Report This Post


Morrison has crafted a mini masterpiece, a showcase in subtlety and sensitivity. Junebug is so well observed, so well handled and so well written that it is difficult not to go overboard with superlatives. Each and every character has their own gracefully illustrated complexities, and the way in which they interact is a simple beauty to behold. The whole cast is fantastic, and Amy Adams in particular is suberb. A film of complex moods, unerring artistry and subtle direction, the best of 2006 thu... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Grandma Death at 23:25, 25 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Junebug

the Parents font=tahoma]t=tahoma]]ew of ttp://indie.imdb.com/title/tt0418773/]#6699cc]Junebugah oma] (2005) When Art dealer Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz, never better) travels ttp://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e212/GuitarPickQueen/J unebug_1.jpg]South meet an Artist about his weird drawings, she decides to visit her husband’s family whilst she’s at it. He hasn’t been in correspondence with them for over three years, and why that is is left unrevealed. She meets them – her mother in law (C... More

Posted by Empitomezzo at 20:43, 17 April 2006 | Report This Post


Junebug

Can a single performance change one's perception of a whole film? Certainly in the case of erformance - a sensational, radiant turn from Amy Adams - takes this rather underpowered slice of southern whimsy and wrestles it into something which is almost worth seeing. amily reunion comedy-drama, the likes of which we've seen a numerous times before. A young man takes his successful wife from Chicago back to the small country town where he grew up, and their city lives could hardly be more differen... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Philconcannon at 19:57, 16 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: JUNEBUG

I was astounded by this film.  My favorite of 05.  Read my full review here:   gorillarodeo.com/junebug.htmlp; ... More

Posted by gorilla rodeo at 18:32, 12 April 2006 | Report This Post


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