Review by Gordon Justesen
Amy Adams, Embeth Davidtz, Ben McKenzie, Alessandro Nivola, Frank Hoyt Taylor,
Celia Weston, Scott Wilson
Director: Phil Morrison
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.0
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Sony Home Entertainment
Features: See Review
Length: 106 Minutes
Release Date: January 17, 2006
loves you just the way you are, but he loves you too much to let you stay that
Living in the south
all my life, I can certainly say that this region hasnít always been depicted
in such a bright light when it comes to the movies. Stories set in the south
always tend to bring with it a great deal of stereotypes. Junebug is a true breath of fresh air, and is a rare film to depict
characters in the south as real people, and not simply the stereotypes weíre
used to seeing.
director, Phil Morrison, and screenwriter, Angus MacLachlan, for crafting such a
rich portrait of small town life. These are characters that worth spending two
hours with, no matter how flawed some of them are. Many of the characters in Junebug
are somewhat flawed, thus making them ultimately human. Itís not everyday,
though, that we get to see characters in southern settings depicted in this
The film opens in
Chicago, where successful art dealer Madeline (Embeth Davidtz) meets a man named
George (Alessandro Nivola) at an art benefit. The two fall almost instantly in
love and eventually get married. When she asks where heís from, sheís a
little stunned to learn that he comes from a small town in North Carolina.
Six months go by.
One day, Madeline gets word of an eccentric artist named David Wark (Frank Hoyt
Taylor). It just so happens that the artist not only resides in North Carolina,
but lives not far at all from Georgeís family in the Winston-Salem area. So
she convinces George to take her to North Carolina to meet the artist, and to
meet his family as well.
George brings his
wife to meet his family at a pivotal point. His younger brother, Johnny (Ben
McKenzie), is about to become a father. He just recently married Ashley (Amy
Adams), his high school sweetheart, and she is about to give birth. The mom
(Celia Weston) and father (Scott Wilson) are simply dealing with the pressures
of possibility of her going into labor at any moment.
Ashley, played by
Adams in one of the best breakthrough performances in years, is as sweet-natured
as they come. Even at nine months pregnant, she is taken back by Georgeís new
wife and all of her big city traits. Sheís a chatty individual, but thatís
just who she is, and seems to treat everyone around here with a sense of real
To be honest, she
needs something to make her happy right now. It turns out that Johnny, an auto
mechanic, has been keeping a certain distance from the very thing that he should
be keeping focus of. Itís the way that he handles all of his problems, by
escaping and keeping things to himself. In the case of Ashley and Johnny,
opposites really do attract.
is overcome by the eccentric qualities of the family she is surrounded by. She
smiles all the time as she gets to know Georgeís parents, his brother, and
especially, the uplifting mother to be. Even when she feels as if this family is
strange, she keeps it to herself. As for George, there is subtle tension
developing between him and Johnny over the way heís avoiding Ashleyís
The film was a big
discovery at last yearís Sundance. Amy Adams very deservingly won the
festivalís top acting honor. One of the reviews compared director Phil
Morrison to that of Woody Allen, and I couldnít think of a better comparison,
as Junebug is most equivalent to an
observant Allen film, only taking place in the south.
To simply put it, Junebug
is simply a gem of a movie. Itís as true and as honest about the people itís
depicting as any movie youíll see about family life in the southern town, or a
small town for that matter. Highlighted by Amy Adamsí winning performance,
this is fine film that deserves to be discovered.
presentation is nothing short of beautiful. The images captured in the
cinematography by Peter Donahue resonate terrifically in the discís video
performance. Image quality is clear as can be, and colors are as rich and alive
as can be.
dialogue-driven film and nothing else, the supplied 5.0 mix achieves grandly in
doing all that it can. Occasional pop ups of music, courtesy of composer Yo La
Tengo, give the presentation an appropriate boost. Dialogue delivery is as
sharply delivered as can be.
A nice collection
of extras here, including a wonderfully engaging commentary track with stars Amy
Adams and Embeth Davidtz. Listening to this commentary, you realize that Ms.
Adams may just be as sunny and peachy in real life as she was in the film. Also
featured are five behind the scenes featurettes, casting session footage,
deleted scenes, a very eye catching art gallery, and bonus trailers.