Justin Tadlock

Junebug

I am in awe of Amy Adams’ performace in director Phil Morrison’s take on the South. She played the perfect southern girl. She talked a lot (probably making up for more than half the film’s dialogue), but she did it right.

Usually, when someone recommends a film to me and say it is a perfect depiction of the South, I cringe. This time it was different. The voices were southern, and not the Hollywood version of southern voices either. Yes, that’s the first thing southern people notice when watching a movie about the South, the voices. We can’t help it; it’s the part that always gets messed up the most.

Madeleine, an art gallery owner from Chicago, and her husband, George, get a chance to go back to his home town as she tries to woo a potential client. From that point on, the family tension grows. Johnny, George’s brother and Ashley’s (Amy Adams) husband, has a history with his brother that has never been resolved and a love for his wife that he can’t seem to show. Ashley clings to every moment with Madeleine and fills the screen with a kind of southern warmth that is rare in film.

The plot never fully explodes. But it’s not expected to. And suprisingly, the film is lacking in the usual southern vs. northern clichés. Morrison presents an original piece of work here.

The most important theme of the movie is family. You do things because they’re your family. No matter where you go in life, your roots will still be a part of who you are. We get these thematic details through Madeleine’s eyes as she finds out more about her husband’s roots. She finds out that he eats mayonnaise. That he sings hymns. That he has a family unlike anything she has known, a family that cares first and foremost about family.

Whether this is a perfect depiction of the southern family is not important. What is important is that it’s the closest thing you’re going to get.