Juno is a bittersweet comedy-drama that offers new insights into the world of American teenagers and the way society in America deals with teenage pregnancy.
Juno, played brilliantly by Ellen Page, is a bright 16-year-old schoolgirl who finds herself pregnant after, more or less, seducing her shy classmate Paulie (Michael Cera).

When she gives herself a pregnancy test at the local drug store and learns she's pregnant, she decides to have an abortion.

Juno is detached, flippant and cocky. She doesn't go through much soul-searching, or receive any counselling, other than a brief encounter with a rather dopey placard-waving pro-life school pal who tells her the baby will already have fingernails.

What turns her against having an abortion is the coldness of the clinic she visits. From that point she decides to go through with the birth and finds a childless upper-class couple, Mark (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa (Jennifer Garner), who long to adopt and have advertised in a local paper. Mark shares her taste in heavy rock music and horror movies ­ so she decides he will make a good dad. They promise to pay for all her medical bills.

Having jumped over the hurdle of telling her father and stepmother, (who are surprisingly unjudgmental and supportive - once they learn that she has things sorted out); and braving the reaction of her teachers and fellow students, Juno sails through her advancing pregnancy with confidence, until her plans are shattered when she discovers that Mark is planning to leave Vanessa.

As the child of divorced parents herself, this strikes a deep chord with Juno and leaves her distressed for a time. Not too long. The film ends on a positive note that has just the right moral tone.

All the performances are excellent. An unsentimental, beautifully-written, finely-observed exploration of the subject that would would be worth using for a discussion group.

first posted LONDON - 27 February 2008 - 210 words

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