04 November 2009


Somehow it's not difficult to see why a lot of people just fall in love with this film, with its candyfloss landscape and a bright, optimistic girl who speaks her mind. Of course, for some, Juno is a rude girl growing up in pretty liberal contemporary American surroundings. Yet, her frankness is somehow sweet and portrayed as more likable than others who are simply superficially nice.

Being raised in such a liberal family, however, can also have a drawback, as Juno is pregnant while she's still 16 years old with her friend Bleeker. Juno decides to keep her baby as she realises that already by two months in her pregnancy it may have developed fingernails. We can only surmise how hard it must be for her to reveal her bulging stomach to all her friends at school and triumph over prevailing prejudices against teenage pregnancy. She then makes a decision to find adoptive parents and manage to find a lovely perfect couple, Mark and Vanessa Loring, whose middle-class background and lifestyle is foreign to hers.

What we see here is Juno's imagination of this 'perfect world', where her baby shall one day be part of. Her dream of Mark and Vanessa as the perfect parents is shattered when she realises that Mark can no longer live in that 'perfect' world of conservative beige wallpaper and a pilate machine. He decides to pursue his own dream of being a more radical musician who can do whatever he wants. It is, however inadvertently, Juno who is the one who teaches him to follow this dream. When she realises that this 'perfect' couple is breaking up, Juno is shocked as she is smitten with the loss of faith in humanity. Her father jumps to a rescue, as he teaches her to love someone who loves her for who she really is. That's when she decides to confess her love to Bleeker, this time disillusioned with the 'perfect' middle-class world and discovering that her own place and situation is already the best there is to have.

Even though the film touches on such a sensitive topic as teenage pregnancy, it is somehow pretty optimistic in showing that Juno's condition is pretty well accepted and tolerated by her friends and family. Whether this can happen in reality remains a moot topic, but I think Juno is still very lucky and still needs more stringent measures to wake her up to the crude reality of the real world. Somehow I just wonder what it would be like if Lars von Trier had directed the second part of the film.

But my point is this: perhaps Juno should be applauded for her strength in withstanding all the prejudices in her decision to keep the baby, but another person who deserves praise is Vanessa, who decides to have the baby even though she no longer has Mark by her side. Like Juno, she is determined to have what she wants. If Juno finally has Bleeker, Vanessa has her baby. Their journey somehow runs in parallel.

But that's where the happy ending ends and the nightmare begins. While Juno is still deeply in love with Bleeker, Vanessa is disillusioned with marriage life. It is, therefore, understandable that she will channel her love for Mark to that of the baby and who knows whether the baby will grow up to be a depressed nutcase raised in porcelain surroundings. Whether that will happen we need to wait and see ...

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