Fox Searchlight Picture's February 2008 coming-of-age comedy Juno, directed by Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking). The narrative centers on whip-smart Juno (Ellen Page, in a breakthrough role), a teenage girl faced with an unplanned pregnancy from an afternoon with the charmingly unassuming Bleeker (Michael Cera). Juno finds her unborn baby the perfect set of parents in Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner), an affluent suburban couple who are eager to adopt. Along with the total support of her parents, (Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons) Juno conquers her problems head-on, displaying a youthful exuberance that is both smart and unexpected. The film was an official selection at 2007's Telluride, Toronto, and London film festivals and received the Best Film award at the Rome International Film Festival. The soundtrack to Juno mixes classic rock favourites with indie-rock gems.
New York singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson may be familiar to many, seeing as her existing infamy is based on being one half of acerbic so-called 'anti-folk' duo The Moldy Peaches who made ripples around the turn of the century with taboo-provoking pared-down romps against this, that and the other. It might be a surprise to find her ramshackle and largely solo performances heading up a film soundtrack, but to Juno's
independence and understated qualities she turns out to be a remarkably good fit. She's mellowed a little with age perhaps, but then to counter that claim take the track "Loose Lips"; she rallies through a nonchalant stream-of-consciousness rant against such adversaries as President Bush, the Iraq war and self-harm/suicide, curling out blunt matter-of-fact lines like "call me up before you're dead, we can make some plans instead," that in the simple is as simple does context she provides resonate beautifully. Hardly lightweight then, but far from coarse or unwieldy. Like the film itself, she handles issues with straightforward clarity, an ambling pace and effortless humour. And to complete the soundtrack, a couple of typically twee compositions from Belle & Sebastian, The Kinks' "A Well Respected Man", Sonic Youth's excellently woozy cover of The Carpenter's "Superstar", the Velvet Underground's daft as elastic "I'm Sticking with You" and Cat Power (the queen of ramshackle) with the fragile "Sea of Love", make this a delightfully humbling listen. --James Berry