Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What-to-Watch Wednesday: Junebug (2005)

What-to-Watch Wednesday: Junebug (2005)

For those of you who don't know, Junebug is the film that put Amy Adams on the map.  She was a semi-familiar face in movies and television in the early 2000's, but it wasn't until she did this small, independent film that critics sat up and took notice of what a phenomenal talent she is.  Her performance is a tour-de-force, star-making one that deserves all the acclaim it received, including leading Adams to her first Academy Award nomination.  And, one simply can't discuss Junebug without talking about how great Adams is in her role as Ashley.  But, there is so much more to this excitingly rich movie that solely focusing on Adams is doing a disservice to what Junebug has to offer.

Among these is one of the most authentic portrayals of a working class southern family I've ever seen on film.  These are people not at all sophisticated, they often speak in harsh words to each other, and truly deep, important emotions are communicated in knowing silences.  These are people I grew up around, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the screenplay and the performances captured these qualities.

One performance I would like to point out (besides Adams) is that of Scott Wilson (best known for his role on The Walking Dead) as the father, Eugene Johnston.  Here is a study in how an actor creates a character through subtlety and  controlled silences.  What a marvel it is to watch!

But, the fact is, every actor in the cast is bringing their A-game to this film.  Ben McKenzie finds real humanity in a character that could have been just another bitter jackass.  The always great Celia Weston plays the family matriarch with a powerful disapproving gaze and a heart of fierce love.  But, it is Amy Adams who shines in how she conveys the deep loneliness and unflinching optimism of a character desperate to be loved by a family that has trouble expressing it.  When she finally has a dark moment late in the film, it is probably one of the most heartbreaking things anyone will ever witness on a movie screen.

Junebug is a wonderful, special little film.  Most viewers will find something they can connect to in it.

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