There’s that saying that if you marry someone, you’re not only marrying them, but you’re also marrying their family and their friends. The same could be said for Gloria who is in for an utter journey of discovery when she meets George. One day at a city gallery, she and George meet and instantly the sparks fly, and they quickly fall head over heels in love. Only ten minutes into the film does the film start up, and for other films, that would be incredibly rushed, but thankfully, it doesn’t. Because the romance is not the story. It’s really only a catalyst for what we’re about to see.
Frankly, I’ve been dying to see “Junebug” since I saw the highlights on television, and I was holding high expectations, and gladly, “Junebug” met with every one of my expectations and so much more. It’s much more unusual than I thought it would be, but thankfully it’s never cliché. It never depicts Southerners as ignorant, tobacco chewing, bumpkins who call their family city folk. The country people depicted here are presented with the same level of sheer respect as we see with Gloria. Ten minutes in to the film, the real story begins. George is not like every other Southerner, and there’s a very good reason for that once we delve in to the story more and more.
Gloria, a woman of the world is then flipped and then she becomes the outsider in a world she’s never delved in to. George’s family is basically dead to the world. They’re a group of people whom basically lumber around like zombies, and go about their business, and much like Gloria, their world is shaken up. This family is emotionally void–except for Ashley. Amy Adams’ performance is something you just have to see for yourself. It’s hard to describe what sense of power and skill she brings to this performance. You’ll basically have to rent the movie to see it for yourself. Adams was a girl who was slumming it on the crappy “Cruel Intentions 2” only years before giving a horrible impression of Sarah Michelle Gellar, yet here she is giving a shocking performance of her career.
Amy Adams plays Ashley, a girl who is basically living with her in-laws, but is the life of the family. From her subtle entrance to her loud excitement over everything, she’s Edith Bunker re-incarnate. Adams gives an excellent performance as the enthusiastic and child like Ashley who is about to give birth. She gazes in sheer awe at her new sister in law, talks a lot just anxious to know people and pulls Gloria around with her attempting to bond. Adams with her large hazel eyes, and wide smile really exemplifies innocence and simplicity. With one facial gesture she really goes miles with her performance. In one scene, she is sitting with Gloria asking her everything about herself, and asks where she grew up. Gloria responds, “I was born in Japan”, to which Ashley gasps and declares “You were not!” Amy Adams is utterly adorable and lovable here. She steals the scenes she shares from literally everyone.
Adams has such an amazing child like exuberance. She has such curiosity and wide-eyed wonder. Her child like enthusiasm, though, is also her jealousy, and inert envy seeping through as she asks everything about Gloria and attempts to live up to her status. If you look closely, after watching Gloria kissing people on both cheeks, she begins to imitate it later on. It’s subtle and unmentioned plot elements like that that creates a sense of poetry to the film. You can tell she’s a woman who never really got the chance to grow up and blossom. “Junebug” is a very melancholy portrait of life standing still, and life moving on, and how we never really know our loved ones until we meet their family, and Gloria realizes how little she knows about him once she visits his home and sees what type of person he is around his friends.
We’re never sure if George’s wife is ready to accept these people, and we’re never sure if these people will ever accept Gloria as one of the family, but George ends up becoming presence that draws hatred from many. In the town, you can sense so much unfulfilled dreams, and wishes, and they hate George because he fulfilled them, and they won’t. Which is what would attribute to George’s brother (Benjamin Mckenzie giving a very subdued and bitter performance) displaying an immense sense of hatred for him. “Junebug” examines being able to move on in life, and sometimes moving on means standing still. Filled with an interesting story, genuine characters, tight direction, clever story telling, a plot that doesn’t manipulate you, and great performances, including a stand out performance by Amy Adams, “Junebug” is a wonderful bittersweet dramedy that deserves to be seen.