tek's rating:

Junebug (R)
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Well, this is one of those movies I'm not quite sure how to rate, because I kinda like it a lot and I kinda like it a little. If that makes any sense. In any event, it's not something I feel the need to see more than once. Anyway, it starts out at an art auction in Chicago, where an art dealer named Madeleine meets a guy named George, who intends to buy a painting (though I never figured out what he actually does for a living). They're immediately attracted to each other, and marry a week later. When they've been married for six months, they go to a small town in North Carolina, so Madeleine can meet a local autistic painter named David Wark, and convince him to sign a contract with her company. While they're in the area, they stay with George's family, who Madeleine is meeting for the first time. They include his parents, Peg and Eugene, his brother Johnny (Ben McKenzie), and Johnny's very pregnant wife, Ashley (Amy Adams).

Let me see if I can describe these people a bit. Johnny is clearly resentful of many things. He doesn't like that his brother got away from home and made something of himself, whereas Johnny hasn't finished high school. (He's studying for his GED, and has to write a paper on Huckleberry Finn, which he hasn't read.) He also seems to resent Ashley for tying him down. Anyway, he doesn't talk much, seeming generally unable to express his feelings, except for acting like a major jerk, out of frustration. Mostly I disliked him, but there were a few scenes where it's clear he really does care about Ashley, even if he doesn't know how to show it. So I felt bad for him on that account (oddly, I was possibly a bit more moved on his behalf by a scene where he tried and failed to record a show for her than I was by more serious events, later on; which is not to say I wasn't moved on his behalf then, too, but I felt more for Ashley than for him). As for Ashley, most of the time she's a very upbeat, excited kind of person, who's thrilled to be meeting Madeleine. As for George's parents... Eugene doesn't talk much, but he seems like a nice guy. Peg, meanwhile, worries that George and Madeleine have nothing in common. I should also say a bit about David Wark. Um... first of all, I don't like his art, though Madeleine loves it. Not being an art student, I can't understand what she sees in it. I'd almost say one would have to appreciate it ironically, which would of course be patronizing to the artist; but quite possibly Madeleine's appreciation of it is genuine. The odd thing about Wark is that both he and his art seem at once racist and not. Well, that's one odd thing. He also talks loudly, emphatically, and inappropriately, which one can attribute to his autism, I suppose. But anyway... I just don't like the guy, for various reasons, and I think Madeleine eventually had doubts about wanting to do business with him, but... she remained dedicated to her job, in any case.

What else can I say? Ashley intended to name her baby Johnny, after its father (though she didn't know if it was going to be a boy or a girl), but she wanted to nickname it "Junebug," hence the title of the movie. Um... I also wanted to say the small (and religious) community where George grew up reminded me very much of my own hometown in northern Maine. That's something I really liked about the movie, how real it felt to me, how familiar. And while most folks who live in such places seem to prefer their town over bigger, more modern places (such as Chicago), there are those who would prefer to get away (like George, and apparently Johnny, and certainly myself). In spite of apparently preferring to live in Chicago, now, George clearly cares about his hometown community and his family, and... well, he and Madeleine begin to realize they really do have some different beliefs and priorities. It's not really clear to me how much effect this will ultimately have on their relationship, though.

I don't really want to say any more about the plot. I don't think I've actually spoiled anything... but I also don't know what I could possibly say about the ending. Stuff happens, life goes on, y'know? Whatever, it's a pretty good movie, with great acting all around. It has some amusing bits and some sad bits, but mostly... it's just sort of awkward and real. *shrug* That's all.

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