As noted recently, I clubbed Viv across the head and dragged her by her hair to attend a suite of Oscar nominated films this past weekend. I’ve already treated of There Will Be Blood, my pick for best of the three. I will ho’d off on No Country For Old Men as the film provoked the most complex, postmodern reactions in my mind and I’m not done thinking about it.
Juno, on the other hand, lived up to its’ rep and my expected response. I don’t think I have anything in specific to contribute to the critical literature on the film, but I wanted to get my own experience down so that a few years from now, I can consult my own record.
The film first came to my attention on seeing the flat-out terrific first trailer sometime this summer, possibly preceding Ratatouille or Knocked Up. I actually forced everyone I work with to watch the trailer, something I avoid in general, being quite aware that the quality of a trailer has literally nothing to do with the quality of the film it advertises.
When the film opened, I was interested to read and hear some of the press work associated with the film’s publicity, interviews with the scriptwriter and director, that sort of thing. When I gained a sense of the narrative arc of the film – teenage pregnancy ends in smiles thanks to the miracle of adoption – my interest in the film plummeted to near-zero.
Now, I am an adopted person and one with a specific rage toward my birth parents, who will remain forever anonymous to me by personal choice (not that I’ve been contacted, but in closed adoptions the parties must both agree to contact as adults and I would not agree if contacted). While aware of this, I am not convinced that my drift in interest stemmed from my own background as much as it did from a sense that I had already seen the film, in Knocked Up.
Of course Juno is very different from Knocked Up. But both films treat a real-world problem – the unexpected and unwanted pregnancy – with previously unseen psychological delicacy, sympathy, and lightheartedness. Sadly, from my perspective, it appears that this particular approach is one which I find tiresome after a mere two outings. Give me angst and rage or cartoon melodrama over comedy which includes realist characterizations when babies are involved, apparently.
I feel that both films artificially resolve complicated situations that, until the falsely-happy plot resolution, are presented with sympathy and complexity. I did not find these resolutions convincing or satisfying.
Returning to Juno in particular, I specifically found the adoption plot element disinteresting as I watched the film. My attention wandered in the scenes which directly involved the adoptive couple and which were more focused on the mechanics of the impending adoption than on Juno’s impeccable taste in rock music. This is interesting to me, because I don’t think it was due to poor scripting or direction or cinematography.
I think it was psychologically defensive boredom stemming from a desire to avoid time spent in the company of my own emotions regarding my adoption. I do think I have a handle on my adoption, and it runs like this: the parents that raised me are my real parents. I love and honor them.
The parents that bore me are of no interest to me, and I bear them considerable ill will. Is that ill will based on rage at abandonment? Or is it based on coming into being? I know what my own answer to this question is, and I know that literally no-one in my circle of social relations either believes or respects my own self-analysis in this matter, something that strongly contributes to my ongoing social withdrawal.