Saturday, 13 October 2012

My take on the K-film Jenny & Juno (제니,주노 )


This blog post contains spoilers.

I’ve been making up for two years worth of putting off watching a lot of TV shows & films of all sorts these days. Day before yesterday I got around to finally watching a Korean film called Jenny & Juno (available on youtube with English subtitles the last time I checked, which was day before yesterday). To be honest, the very first time I had heard of this movie, my first reaction was “which one is the guy?" (for I knew one was a guy) seeing that they both are, how do you say, um, Western names. Juno is, in case you’re wondering as well.

This movie is about teenage pregnancy (which made me wonder if there was something about movies with the name “Juno” on the title) and revolve around a teenage couple in high school—yes, you guessed it, Jenny and Juno! The film begins with (like the American film Juno), the girl in question taking the pregnancy test and realizing that she is, in fact, pregnant. Anyways, so then she goes and tells her boyfriend, Juno about it and he freaks out in the beginning but then she pretty much sits him down and tells him that it is their problem (as opposed to, I guess, just Jenny’s) and that they (a) have to deal with it together and (b) cannot run away from it. So far so good. Juno then does this whole thing of declaring his love for Jenny in front her entire class. That scene, I think, is supposed to be much sweeter than I found it…but then again, I suppose it was put in to please high school couples and not some 23-year-old blogger.

After watching a video on abortion, the high school couple decided to opt against abortion and give birth to the baby and, I suppose, raise it. And then follows the usual stuff we see in most movies/tv shows about pregnant women—the girl craving for all sorts of food, the guy running to get it for her in the middle of the night etc (yes, I know, I thought of Salam Namaste at one point, but in this film, the guy wanted to play the dad and he didn’t crib, not even once). They even go watch pregnant parents excising from behind a glass and try and imitate that.

Eventually, we hear that Jenny (or should I say “Jae-in” like her father insists I do) has an older sister (well, she has two—one who is 20 years old and lives in the same house as Jenny/Jae-in & their parents and one who is the oldest and is married & lives in the US with her hubby…and we are talking about the oldest in this scene) who never shares screen time, is struggling to conceive, and that really stresses out Jenny’s mom. I’m not sure why it would stress that mom to the extent it does but then I reasoned that perhaps she really wants to be a grandma (of course, then my brain went like—well, that’s one problem solved!). I should probably get into the family background of Juno, which is simply this—a mom and a dad, both working, no siblings. Juno also provides funny moments every now and then when he tried to interrupt his parents from, erm, shall we say, making him a baby brother (as said by the characters in the film themselves; and also, might I add “hypocrite!”) because he is scared that if his baby brother will be born after his baby, “the family tree will get messed up”. I rolled my eyes at his wonderful reasoning.

Anyway, the movie progresses, we see how Jenny and Juno love each other, how Jenny gets the pregnant woman cravings, how they haven’t told anyone about their pregnancy (and yet roam around the city all day talking about the baby out loud) and I reach a point where I wonder why her tummy isn’t showing. But then I assume that it’s still the earlier months.

Moving on. Time goes by and Jenny’s sister finds out that she’s pregnant…how she found this little info is a little… well, I’ll just tell you. Jenny, who seems to have an aversion towards trousers/shorts/skirts/any lower half of the garments other than the basic underwear every time she’s in her room (that is unlocked and people keep barging in) is in her bathroom, looking at her tummy when her sister barges in without knocking (she never knocks) and holds out a maternity belt and demands to know why Jenny’s been using it. Then she looks at Jenny’s tummy and asks her why it looks the way it does. Jenny is shocked, and I am puzzled. Looks like what exactly? It’s flat and it has no marks and what the hell did that woman see? We never find out.

Jenny convinces her sister to let her tell their mom this news first, which the sister agrees to. Then she tells Juno.

They eventually tell both sets of parents the truth. Turns out that they didn’t tell their parents about the pregnancy because they were scared that they’d ask Jenny and Juno to abort their child. Also turns out that Jenny is 6 months pregnant. Where is this baby hiding? Her tummy is flatter than a blackboard! But I think it’ll start showing around the 8th month and I try not to wonder about that bit. I am really amazed that how none of the parents really say anything you know. They’re angry, yes but that anger is very mild… In Juno, Juno’s parents reacted! These people meet over at a restaurant over dinner and decide that (a) if, ten years later, when Jenny and Juno are 25 years old, they still love each other, they can get married and (b) Jenny will go to the USA to deliver her baby so that “no one here will get to know”. Jenny and Juno object to all this, obviously.

Anyway, Juno tells some friends over at school about their soon-to-be-parents state and the friends are supportive. Well, more than just supportive. When Juno gets scared that Jenny will be sent off to the States, the friends sneak Jenny out of her house confinement and sneak her of to get married. What seems to be the entire school is there for the wedding. I must say, that wedding sure was sweet. Slightly unreal perhaps, a whole load of 15-year-olds, just getting together with a LOT of balloons and exchanging vows (a little like the 2nd grade weddings one so often hears about, I thought). But it still is sweet…it looks very beautiful visually.

Anyway, they don’t tell their parents about the wedding either. I wont get into a lot of detail of what happens after this…it’s just Jenny’s parents trying to sneak her off to the States and Juno trying not to let that happen. And then Jenny’s water breaks. She’s rushed to the hospital and the child is born. Oh, and even while she was in labour—flat belly.

Then we see that the time frame of the film has skipped forward just a tad bit. Juno seems to be slogging his ass off studying because he wants to be a good dad and be successful and provide for his child. Makes sense. Then Jenny comes, massages his shoulders and, at least in my eyes, puts more exam-relates-performance-pressure on Juno saying, “SNU (Seoul National University) won’t do. It has to be Harvard.” Juno smiles and I think that man, he must really love her. Why isn’t Jenny studying? Doesn’t she want to get into college, I think. Doesn’t she want to provide for the child the way Juno does? Have they been through the gender-wise division of labour chart and mapped out how Juno must “provide” and Jenny must raise the child? Maybe. Except then the next scene makes the audience think that it’s the grandparents who have taken more care of the child. And then the film ends.

It’s an average film, at max. There are a lot of things are confusing, shouldn’t have been there, could have carried out well. But it’s not bad either. It talks about the right of parents, no matter age, to keep their child if they want to (I guess, I’m not entirely sure) and, well, it’s quite cute and funny in places.

My ratings for Jenny & Juno: 3/10  You won't be missing much if you let this one pass.

For more of my posts on K-films,
The Classic

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