Hollywood hues

Complex ‘issue’ made easy

A gripping script and sensitive portrayal make Juno a must-see, says Ervell E. Menezes

Ellen Page and Michael Cera excel in Juno
Ellen Page and Michael Cera excel in Juno

Youngsters in love or finding their way into the realm of sex and, at times, unwanted pregnancies is a subject that often crops up in cinema and they come in various shapes and hues. It gives budding or rather promising stars a chance of making a mark for themselves. The star that comes readily to mind is Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby and Blue Lagoon and the films of this genre include Friends and Blue Lagoon to name just two.

The latest in this line is Juno and this rather sensitive story deals with the post-pregnancy period and the problems that arise due to adoption. It gives the subject a serious edge but a scintillating but witty dialogue by stripper-turned-scriptwriter Diablo Cody gives it a cutting edge without in any way diluting its seriousness. It all begins when Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) and Paulie (Michael Cera) after their proverbial roll in the hay are left holding the baby.

But before the baby arrives these kids are in a quandary whether to continue with the pregnancy or abort because at 16 Juno is not old enough to play mother. So with the help of the Desperately Seeking Spawn column and Juno’s close friend Leah (Olivia Thirby), they look out for suitable adoptive parents. Then there is also Juno’s stepmother to contend with and the situation gets more complex.

The lucky break comes when Juno encounters Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) to decide and but there is a hitch. Her companion Mark (Jason Bateman) is not exactly willing. He doesn’t want to be burdened with extra responsibility and this adds a new dimension which further boosts the film because of the sensitive handling of the issue.

So it seems like problems, problems all through but director Jason Reitman does an excellent job handling this rather complex situation. Helped no doubt by the gripping script and further embellished by an absolutely superb performance by Ellen Page in the lead role, the narrative never runs into heavy weather. She could well emerge into a Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock.

What’s more Juno just sticks to the real issues and Eric Steelberg sweeping candy-coloured camerawork enhances the visual appeal. Hence it is an ideal mix of form and content and the players too are very natural. Michael Cera is not exactly exuberant, but effective and a good foil to the ebullient Page. Good cameos Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner also help in this enthralling, not-to-be-missed entertainer.