Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Junebug (2005)

I'm not sure Phil Morrison understands how to properly direct a motion picture. He directs like a photographer would direct, which leads to some nicely composed shots but also to a good deal of bad cuts and jarring close-ups. His inexperience almost sinks this film; it's a good thing for him that Amy Adams is on hand to keep it afloat. It's a film about inner lives, both literally (Adams is in the final stages of pregnancy) and figuratively. It offers peeks at the inner emotions of its characters ("She hides herself. Like most."), but it also provides fodder for discussion about the inner life of social networks (outsider art!), the usefulness of spirituality, the mechanics of relationships, what have you. As a result of this, most of the characters are inward types, but Adams cuts through that like a ray of sunshine breaking through a glass of water. Adams's Ashley is a loquacious force of nature that contrasts well with the taciturn nature of the rest of the family. It's like she's trying to will this film not to fall apart, and if she keeps talking maybe it won't. It works for the most part, too: Junebug is a reasonably entertaining slice o' life that keeps its condescension to a minimum (how many films would try something like the hymn scene with a straight face?) and offers a number of small pleasures. It's also quite sly, only revealing the true point of its story in its final scenes (more inner life!). But damn you, Morrison -- it could have been much better.

Grade: B-


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