- BOTTOM LINE
- Flat, Boring And Dull
What is the Story about?
Juanita (Alfre Woodard) is a single woman with three children and a granddaughter as well. With the eldest son in jail and others acting irresponsible, the burden on Juanita becomes too big to handle. She wants to escape from the mess and clear her mind. One day she takes off on a journey. What happens in the travel and who did she meet, is what the film is all about?
Alfre Woodard is a seasoned artist with some scintillating performances in her repertoire. But, Juanita doesn’t find a place among them even though it is clearly aimed that way. The problem is the way the character has been designed and executed. The connect with the part is missing.
In a way, that is the whole challenge of the role, for Alfre Woodard. To make an impossible to like character likeable given the circumstances it faces. There is a frustration that seems like never-ending, and it is visible in the acting, but the way it continues all that way until the end, one is left clueless as to what to make of the character and the acting. Somewhere in the journey, the pitch of the act is lost, and it is a drag from then onwards.
Direction By Clark Johnson?
Clark Johnson directs Juanita who has a great insight into the space the movie has been set. The understanding of characters is there, but the problem with Juanita is the lack of gripping and engaging narration.
Juanita is a simple subject that needs excellent script and performances to lift it from boredom and monotonous. A certain kind of empathy is required to travel with the lead protagonist and the choices it makes. With Juanita, none of that happens, and as an audience, we don’t care whatever happens.
The ominous signs are visible from the start itself. Until the movie ‘actually’ takes off with the start of the road trip, it feels impossible to sit through. The even the beginning of the travelling too is uninteresting. It is when we met a few new characters that some sense of relief occurs. If that was the intended effect from the director, which doesn’t look like the case, it could be seen as a job well done.
There are few moments at the restaurant segments that give hope of something finally happening. But, nothing of that sort happens, and the narrative sticks to its usual boring humdrumness. The climax leaves one entirely dissatisfied, that is if one gets to that point after all that has proceeded before it.
Barring the occasional punctuating moments of relief, there is nothing worth watching in Juanita. The punctuations, sadly, are few in this journey that feels never ending before and after the take-off.
Adam Beach is fine. He is majorly responsible for the momentary relief along with Ashlie Atkinson. They come at different points and breathe some life into the dull narration. They play simple roles in a nonchalant and easily attractive manner. Blair Underwood is okay. Markus Richardson and LaTanya Richardson Jackson fail to bring any depth to the characters they do. The rest are alright in their small parts.
Music and other departments?
The Music by Kevin Lax is passable wherever it is used. The narrative isn’t heavy on the score and is mostly filled with silences or real sounds. The cinematography could have been better. The editing is decent. The writing definitely should have been better.
Few Moments Of Introspection
No Emotional Connection
Did I enjoy it?
Will you recommend it?
Juanita Review by Siddhartha Toleti