No independent movie soundtrack in recent years has even come close to the joint critical and commercial success of Juno, the Oscar-nominated 2007 comedy-drama starring Elliot Page, as Juno MacGuff, an offbeat 16-year-old navigating the pitfalls of unplanned teen pregnancy and romance.
The movie directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody is quirky, irreverent, and all that teen angst, sarcasm, and sentimentality are packed perfectly into the movie’s soundtrack. The tracks transcend the clichéd plot of teen pregnancy and move into much more nuanced and subtle terrain. The cast also includes Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman.
A tale told over four seasons, starting in autumn when Juno, a 16-year-old high-school junior in Minnesota, discovers she’s pregnant after one event in a chair with her best friend, Bleeker. In the waiting room of an abortion clinic, the quirky and whip-sharp Juno decides to give birth and to place the child with an adoptive couple. She finds one in the PennySaver personals, contacts them, tells her dad and step-mother, and carries on with school. The chosen parents, upscale yuppies (one of whom is cool and laid back, the other meticulous and uptight), meet Juno, sign papers, and the year unfolds. Will Juno’s plan work, can she improvise, and what about Bleeker?
By the mid-2000s, home computing and iTunes had stunted the commercial appeal of traditional movie compilations. Juno offered up a hip alternative. Steered by Kimya Dawson’s lo-fi indie-folk songs (most of which were penned especially for the film), who provides six of the 19 tracks on the album, and bolstered by an all-star cast including Sonic Youth, The Kinks, the Velvet Underground, and Cat Power, the music that defines Juno felt like a mixtape from an old friend who could tap into the psychic fuzz, growing pains, and absurdity that shadows the best of us into adulthood.
From start to finish, the soundtrack to Juno sounds like the too-cool-for-you record collection of a character in the film. From Belle and Sebastian’s “Expectations” to Sonic Youth’s heart-stung rendition of The Carpenters’ “Superstar”, the humour and emotional nuance laced throughout Diablo Cody’s script greatly benefits from a back-and-forth between first-rate indie rock and Kimya Dawson’s lullaby-like gems. It’s tricky to imagine one without the other.
Press play button below and enjoy the album: