Starring: Amy Adams, Embeth Davidtz, Alessandro Nivola
Director: Phil Morrison
Running Time: 106 mins
Junebug is an American film about a newly-married art dealer from Chicago who travels to the home of her husband’s family in the Deep South, causing a cultural clash that upsets their household equilibrium.
This is an indie movie with good acting and a nice atmosphere. For the most part, I liked Junebug, but there was just one small detail that got on my nerves right the way through – that the film fails to give you the emotionally dramatic punch it’s going for out of sheer complacency.
Before I get into that, however, I need to talk about the performances, which are easily the best part of the whole film. The movie is famous for giving Amy Adams her breakthrough role as a young woman far into a pregnancy, and it’s easy to see why she rocketed so massively onto the big stage after Junebug.
Not only is Amy Adams so wonderfully adorable and funny in the role, but she also manages to pull off the extreme emotional drama in the film’s only really powerful scene near the climax. Generally, she’s all happy-go-lucky and an absolute delight to watch, but then when push comes to shove, she pulls out all the big guns and shows her amazing potential as a dramatic actress too.
The film also stars Embeth Davidtz as a woman that is a complete polar opposite to who Amy Adams plays. Although I feel that the film is generally lacking in dramatic power and intrigue, Davidtz is the exception, because her performance as a woman completely out of her element amidst the culture of the middle-class in the Deep South is fantastically real, and importantly makes you care about her own plight alongside what Amy Adams’ character is going through.
For the most part, Junebug feels like a pretty light-hearted film, mainly thanks to Amy Adams, and that was nice and all, but I felt as if it wasn’t intended.
The major issue I have with this film is that, as it was progressing, it was showing all the hallmarks of a very emotional family drama, but it wasn’t ever really pulling that off, which left me feeling constantly unsatisfied with a film that just didn’t quite sit right.
The main reason for that failure, I think, is that the film doesn’t offer enough insight into the characters and background to get you properly hooked on their situation. The two female leads, who we get the most insight into, are definitely the most interesting, but the story also spends a lot of time focussing on the husband of Amy Adams’ character, and yet we just don’t get any emotional attachment to him.
From the beginning, he’s always miserable, to a ridiculous extent, and as that continues as the film goes on, it feels as if he’s being a misery guts for no good reason, which left me annoyed that I wasn’t really getting to the crux of his character. If the film had spent a little more time (which I would not have minded) on the establishing stages and developing all the major characters, I’m certain it would have had a much stronger emotional punch.
Overall, Junebug is a nice film, and I enjoyed watching it, largely because of the strong performances, but I was disappointed by the seemingly complacent story that robbed the film of great emotional depth, and that’s why it gets a 6.8 from me.