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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 21.67%
Average: 16.67%
Pretty Bad: 1.67%
Total Crap: 1.67%

5 reviews, 30 user ratings

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by Aaron Ducat

"All I found was a slow, desultory film with uninteresting characters"
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 SEATTLE FILM FESTIVAL: Junebug is the sort of film that raises serious problems for me as a reviewer. Itís won all sorts of awards at both Sundance and Cannes and continues to gain critical attention as it moves through the festival circuit. The problem is that, excepting the praise due Amy Adams for her wonderful performance, I just canít agree with my fellow critics. In fact, not only can I not agree, I must stubbornly oppose. While much verbiage is being given to the filmís depiction of contrasts: urban vs. rural, family vs. career, educated vs. non-, insider vs. outsider, most reviewers overlook the fact that this movie is poorly written and lacks characters of true depth (except Adamsí Ashley and Madeleine, the charming Embeth Davidtz), and as such ends up being tremendously and painfully boring.

The plot follows Madeleine, a British-born, Chicago-based art dealer, who meets and quickly marries George (Alessandro Nivola). Upon discovering a strange local artist in North Carolina, Madeleine and George travel there with the hopes of signing him to Madeleineís gallery, as well as visiting Georgeís family who live nearby. There are of course clashes, as itís obvious that the mother, Peg (Celia Weston) doesnít like Madeleine, and the father, Eugene (Scott Wilson), is too taciturn to say much of value either way. Georgeís brother Johnny (Benjamin McKenzie) is a frustrated factory worker married to soon-to-be-mom Ashley (Amy Adams), the only one in the family not only garrulous but who takes a liking to Madeleine. What follows are a series of confused and bizarre interactions as cultures clash.

My major problem with this film is that there are few characters to care about, and, if you donít care about characters, itís hard to care about the actions that involve them, which of course is a difficult way to make a plot function. Critics are raving about Adamsí performance - and rightly so because sheís wonderful - but I canít help feeling that she stands out in greater contrast because there are so few others with depth enough to care about. Sadly, writer Angus MacLachlan provides us with too many stereotypes: the disapproving mother, the reserved father, the angry son. While stereotypes exist because theyíre accurate representations, theyíre not sufficient to carry a film, and leave us with characters of little human interest.

Director Morrison shoots the film slowly, presumably to emphasize the ďsouthernĒ way of life, and the film abounds with many still, soundless shots. Not only are the shots drawn out and sluggish, but the acting is as well. Itís as if Morrisonís film was backed by a pharmaceutical company who was handing out tranquilizers on the set. I realize this style is for effect, and it plays on a common stereotype of southern folks as s l o w. Questions of accuracy aside, this device only alienated me further from the film, especially as it became increasingly clear that there were going to be minimal characters to whom I could become attached, and thus care about their happenings.

I wish I could find the same value and excitement in this film that many of my fellow critics see. Unfortunately, all I found was a slow, desultory film with uninteresting characters that cannot be redeemed, even with Adamsí stellar performance.

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originally posted: 06/22/05 06:38:35
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/18/17 Anne Selby worth a look-average 3 stars
5/22/15 David Hollingsworth Quirky, smart, and a film that is absolutely endearing 5 stars
10/02/07 Chris V I feel vindicated by your review. Amy Adams was exquite and perhaps worth the trouble. 3 stars
8/11/07 Barb One of the best I've seen. Subtle, moving, true. 5 stars
8/05/07 fools♫gold Not too bad, but is it really so fantastic? 4 stars
4/22/07 Mac Dude! Ben Gazarra is NOT in this flick! 5 stars
3/07/07 Frank Rountree Good God! What a hideous movie, total crap!!! 1 stars
8/28/06 Anastasia Lawrence moving 5 stars
8/23/06 Alice Derfler Is Amy Adams related to Celie Watson? 5 stars
8/17/06 Mary Beth memorable 5 stars
6/29/06 Jay Offbeat little character study with a great cast. Worth the rental. 4 stars
6/11/06 Brian O'Neill I agree with you. So lovely to find a film that knows the SUBTLETY of family dynamics! 5 stars
5/30/06 shania delorme BENJMIN MCKENZIE IS THE HOTTEST MAN EVER 5 stars
5/23/06 TxGirlNBoston worth watching, characters are great, good movie 4 stars
4/16/06 hamilton5258 Great if you like going to the dentist. Good acting. 2 stars
3/23/06 Annie G Not bad if you are looking for some good character sketches, but not a plot. 3 stars
2/24/06 Allyson Holt Like math, the whole equaled the sum of the parts (family), divided by Ashley. 5 stars
2/19/06 Phil M. Aficionado Sorry Aaron Ducat; you could not be more off target; stunning cast/film; so GENUINE in feel 5 stars
1/23/06 Richard Excellent movie, but Ben Gazarra wasn't in it -- that was Scott Wilson. 4 stars
11/04/05 shania delorme BENJAMIN MCKENZIE IS THE HOTTEST GUY EVER 5 stars
10/04/05 Elizabeth S Quite good! Liked that like life, it doesn't resolve all issues. 3 stars
9/25/05 jcjs a perfect movie or as close as ya can get to it 5 stars
9/17/05 lorraine kotraba The acting was superb. It was definitely poking fun at the South. 4 stars
9/06/05 Couldn't agree with you more. Knocked me off my feet! One of the best I've seen ! 5 stars
8/07/05 R. Mintz Great movie. I agrree with your commnets but it's Scott Wilson not Ben Gazzara 5 stars
8/05/05 Mariabbe at times charming, very slow 4 stars
3/27/05 harvey shapiro awesome--wish there were more movies like this! 5 stars
3/04/05 Carla I love this movie!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
2/01/05 Kris Amy Smart is awesome; Embeth Davidtz is also good 4 stars
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  03-Aug-2005 (R)
  DVD: 17-Jan-2006



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