An artistic, finely wrought family drama about a Southern homecoming, Junebug is a noteworthy debut for director Phil Morrison.
The leisurely paced picture opens with some Southern vocal sounds before a scene at an artwork auction. George (Alessandro Nivola) and Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz - Bridget Jones' Diary) meet cute and become newlyweds.
The script centers on Madeleine, a self-taught artist and Chicago gallery proprietor, coming with George six months later to check out the work of a sexually-obsessed painter in the area of George's working-class North Carolina family.
Junebug establishes a sincerity as George and Madeleine, a diplomat's daughter who's lived in Kenya among other places all over the world, are affected by George's diverse Christian family.
Ben McKenzie of TV's "The O.C." is the chronically sullen Tommy who is rather impolite to Madeleine at the outset.
Tommy's health-conscious pregnant wife, Ashley, played with youthful ebullience by Amy Adams (Catch Me If You Can), thinks their child can help change her blue, blue-collar husband.
A very good Celia Weston is the garrulous mother and the low-key dad (Scott Wilson of Monster) is nearly off the map as a man in search of a screwdriver.
Junebug assumes its title from the name Ashley wants her child to bear if it's a girl. The complications from the way the British-accented Madeleine handles her new living conditions almost has one forgetting about her occupational slickness, as the painter and his family learn of her recent notoriety with her handsome, successful husband.
It's hard to find a continuity in Madeleine's characterization, yet Davidtz feeds well off of the cast, especially Weston and the vivacious Adams in some peculiarly amusing interludes of dialogue.
Morrison imparts a warm, country atmosphere in a production shot in his hometown of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. And, while the film appears to have a drifting nature about it, there's a sweetness to what the family is going through and how it lingers in the hearts of George and Madeleine. In Junebug, the North and South meet with some trouble and affection, especially from the an effervescent, yet vulnerable Adams, the sugar and spice in the deliberate Carolina confection.