March 14, 2009
Last night we watched “Junebug,” a 2005 film with Alessandro Nivola, Embeth Davidtz, Amy Adams, Benjamin McKenzie, and Celia Weston. The story concerns Madeleine (Davidtz), who owns an “outsiders” art gallery in Chicago. She gets wind of a primitive artist in North Carolina and decides to go in person to get him to sign on with her gallery. Her new husband, George Johnsten (Nivola), takes the trip with her in order to introduce her to his family, who live a short distance from the artist. This family – parents, a son, and the son’s pregnant and childish wife – Adams, who got an Oscar nomination for this performance – constitute a delicate balance of no-nothingism, introversion, and frayed nerves. Madeleine, who has not been prepared for this encounter and who understands nothing about this family or its environment, unwittingly becomes a kind of bizarro-world bull in the china shop. This film is an interesting psychological study of each of the major characters and a caution against judging folks based on their behavior alone. The director, Phil Morrison, likes silent landscapes and occasional black screens, as though he’s saying: “Hmmmm, let’s think about this for a minute.” That’s a good recommendation for the film as a whole. It’s the kind of film that requires at least one more person in the room – viewers are likely to discuss it as it evolves – and someone to talk with further later on.