Sunday, September 04, 2005

Junebug

Okay, so the story is that Madeline, owner of a Chicago art gallery, goes with her new (and younger) husband George to North Carolina to visit an unknown artist and try to sign him to her gallery. While they're there, they decide to drop in on George's family, who lives close by. This could be just a generic fish out of water, let's-make-fun-of-Southerners movie. But it's not that at all. This is an extremely unconventional comedy, and it's very charming.

George and Madeline are played by Alessandro Nivola (who is too handsome for his own good) and Embeth Davidtz. These two played Henry and Mary Crawford in the recent adaptation of Mansfield Park, and it was a bit weird at first to see them in a decidedly non-fraternal capacity. But they have a great chemistry and they really sell the relationship. In George's parents' house are his mother and father (Celia Weston and Scott Wilson, respectively), his younger brother Johnny (O.C.'s Benjamin McKenzie), and Johnny's wife Ashley (Amy Adams). What's great about this movie is that it never goes where you expect it to, and the characters never act like they're in a movie. They're very real people, and they make refreshingly realistic decisions.

The standout in this movie is Amy Adams. Her performance as Ashley is so energetic, so sincere, and so sweet I just wanted to hug her and take her home with me. And I loved Frank Hoyt Taylor as the eccentric artist. Funny, endearing, and with just the right amount of slightly creepy.