Not that I wasn't already sure about this particular fact, but "Junebug" definitively proves one thing: Living in Chicago is better than living anywhere in North Carolina.
George (Alessandro Nivola) meets Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz) in Chicago. She's in art and we never quite figure out what George does. Director Phil Morrison doesn't really care. All he cares about is that George has a quaint Southern accent that seems cute to Madeleine. They quickly get married and next thing we know they're on the way down to N.C. to meet George's family and visit an artist (Frank Hoyt Taylor) who's kind of a retarded mix of Robert Mapplethorpe and Allen C. Redwood (Google it and it'll all make sense).
Now, if you're George, the logical thing is to simply tell Madeleine something to the effect of, "You're probably going to find my family to be really fucked up." But since this is a film that wants to let the audience discover just how fucked up these people are, George never says a thing. He just drops Madeleine off with his folks and disappears for a while.
Madeleine is left in the company of George's mother, Peg (Celia Weston), who knows everything and treats everyone like a child, Eugene (Scott Wilson), George's father, who appears to have the mentality of a harmless three-year-old, Johnny (Ben McKenzie), George's younger brother, who has the emotional range of a toddler who's just had his teddy bear taken away, and Ashley (Amy Adams), George's pregnant sister-in-law and Johnny's wife, who is so attention starved it's pathetic.
Watching this film is not unlike having teeth pulled. British, urbane Madeleine is trapped with the family from hell. Although she tries to make the best of it, she sees what we see and that's a group of people so trapped by their emotional and intellectual limitations that they've given up on stretching beyond the narrowly defined roles they've set for themselves. It's like watching cats in a bathtub. Only Ashley seems to dream of something better, yet she's so deep in denial about the incapacitated people around her that we wish she'd just run away.
When George and Madeleine finally drive out of there, relieved to be leaving, we can only exhale that sigh of relief with them, glad that we'll soon be able to leave this movie behind.
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