Under Her Eye review: Juno

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Read the shortlisted Under Her Eye reviews then vote for your favourite.

As part of Stylist’s Under Her Eye initiative, we’re on the hunt for three new female film critics. We asked aspiring reviewers to send in a 450-word review of their favourite film – and after an overwhelming response, we’ve whittled it down to a shortlist of 20. 

Read one woman’s review of Juno below and click here to see the other entries and vote for your favourite.

Sixteen and pregnant, Juno (Ellen Page) has a life-changing decision to make. And yet, you wouldn’t think it. From the outset, Page throws out deadpan quips that diffuse the expected sentimentality. She’s seen scheduling an abortion as she would a manicure: “I’m gonna say it’s been about two months and four days since the sex. Mind you, that’s just a guesstimation.” 

With the support of her wonderfully pragmatic parents, played with relish by JK Simmons and Allison Janney, Juno ultimately chooses to put her baby up for adoption, selecting an affluent couple – a put-together Jennifer Garner and laid-back Jason Bateman – to raise the child. One of the most original female characters of the 21st century, our charismatic heroine unapologetically marches to the beat of her own drum, whether she’s glugging Sunny D to the infectious folk-infused soundtrack or watching old horror movies on VHS.

The stripper-turned-screenwriter Diablo Cody can be credited for much of Juno’s enduring genius. Her sparkling, pop-culturally savvy script fizzes with a stylised vernacular all of its own that is endlessly quotable more than a decade after its release. The punchy expositional back and forth between Juno and a grocery-store clerk – featuring wonderfully weird banter including “your eggo is preggo, no doubt about it” – has rightly become iconic, landing Cody a screenplay Oscar in 2008. 

The film’s volleying witticisms develop its zany cast of characters while also creating a light-hearted tone that obscures its latent pro-choice message – a message that, rather depressingly, remains of-the-moment today under the reproductive-rights slashing of the Trump administration. What makes Juno a timeless coming-of-age comedy is its perfect balance of humour and pathos, its delicate offsetting of hilarious one-liners with heart-wrenching disappointments.

Juno is also a touching romance that made a whole generation of pre-hipsters fall for the gawky charm of Michael Cera. The actor finessed his lovable-loser persona through Paulie Bleeker, Juno’s knobbly kneed baby daddy whose racing-car bed and inability to grow a moustache belie an unexpected maturity. His feminism shines through when he asks “What should we do?” after Juno announces her pregnancy. 

In contrast to the mile-a-minute repartee that largely characterises the film’s dialogue, conversations between Juno and Bleeker unfold at a slower pace, replicating the awkwardness of interactions with a teenage crush: averted eye contact, breathy laughter and all. The high-schoolers’ intimacy is tenderly captured through little details. The camera lingering on their feet as they spoon – Paulie’s still shod in muddied trainers after a running meet – is particularly joyous. Sweet, smart and sharp-witted, Juno is an indisputable indie darling with all the spice of an orange Tic Tac.

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