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« Say What?Uma and Matt in "The House That Jack Built"| Main| YNMS: Leave No Trace »
Wednesday
May 02 2018

Soundtracking: "Juno"

byChris Feil

I'm anxious to see what musical stylings await us with Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman's third collaboration,Tully.We've already discussed howa single song brought deep character insight toYoung Adult,with the after effects of high school romance lingering in the dated verve of Teenage Fanclub.But while that song served to inflate Mavis Gary's convoluted fantasy,Junopresents a soundtrack that is true to its protagonist's humble emotional reality.Its fantasy is that we wish our messy lives could have such cozy results,and its music is as oddly comforting...

Juno's many folksy tunes were among the qualms of the film's detractors,and their issue with the assumed tweeness was similarly targeted towards the film itself.But that ignores the authenticity on both sides - its blasé archness is how teenagers talk and think,and this soundtrack is exactly what a girl like Juno would be listening to.Maybe those complaints are instantly stirred by its animated opening set to Barry Louis Polisar's "All I Want is You",but what this sequence does is immerse quickly in its teenage optimism,and yes maybe some appropriate naivete.It's also not for nothing that it quickly tells the audience that they aren't getting the dire version they might expect from the film's presence.

Kimya Dawson of The Moldy Peaches is heard throughout the film on several tracks but isn't the exclusive voice on the soundtrack,like Simon and Garfunkel forThe GraduateorCat Stevens forHarold and Maude.In that regard,the music is a sly embodiment of the film's interest and compassion for its ensemble (note Paulie Bleeker gets his own definitive sound with The Kinks).Dawson's voice is Juno's counterpart dominating the proceedings,but the film has its eyes and ears on every one else around her as well.

There is even consideration given to the film's most selfish character,Jason Bateman's Mark.Music plays a more juvenile bonding topic between Juno and Mark,a way for both of them to fit in with the person they wish themselves to be.As Mark's full immaturity and self-absorption comes to light,his music becomes the butt of the joke.Juno's right,Sonic Youth is just noise.

But like the film's hero,the music carries only the subtlest emotional undercurrent,a deep well of feeling often played off with winks.Dawson's more playful voice naturally fades away at Juno's most emotionally complex moment,and Cat Power's elegiac cover of "Sea of Love"christening the post-birth sequence.But true to the film's gracious spirit and warmth for everyone around her,the song belongs just as much to Jennifer Garner's new adoptive mother and Allison Janney's quietly doting step-mother.

UnlikeYoung Adult's once doomed couple,this Reitman/Cody high school coupling hangs their romance on a song of actual romantic declaration.With The Moldy Peaches "Anyone Else But You",the musical reflection of their mutual affection is plainspoken,sweet,and just a touch silly.It's a perfect little love song that puts all of its longing on the table but is super no pressure about it.As Juno and Pauly sing to one another on the sidewalk,we can feel the casualness of the song embodying the breathing room within the relationship,but also the space Juno gives herself to figure herself out.

What makes it such an additionally lovely moment is how resistant it is the pressures of sweeping emotional machinations of teen love on film;most teen romances demand promises of forever,but this is okay with right now.Again the song's goofiness could be a sticking point to those who think it performatively arch,but to do so is to ignore the simple genuine sentiment.It's not twee,it's real.

All Soundtracking installments can be foundhere!

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Reader Comments (1)

I have that soundtrack in my external hard drive.Still one of my favorites.

May 2,2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

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