Junebug Phil Morrison

In his feature film debut, Phil Morrison adapts Angus MacLachlan's tale, which paints (and combines) two very scary portraits: meeting the in-laws for the first time and paying a visit to small town, Southern U.S. of A. Junebug isn't at all the type of film you'd expect from either scenario, however. Instead of opting to use the typical clichéd stereotypes, what unfolds is a story exploring subtle themes like clashing cultures (refined art dealer meets simple Southern bumpkins) and family dynamics, in turn delivering an extraordinary little film that is equally poignant, funny and unique. In North Carolina to meet with a prospective artist, art dealer Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz) and her husband George (Alessandro Nivola) visit George's family in the next county. Unknown to his family, Madeleine does a little foundation shaking with her high art, educated qualities when she tries to bond with parents-in-law Peg (Celia Weston) and Eugene (Scott Wilson), attempts to break George's younger brother Johnny (Benjamin McKenzie) out of his silent but grumpy shell and finds an enviously boisterous hanger-on in his pregnant teenage wife, Ashley (Amy Adams). Designing the characters rich in originality and equality (there are no leads), MacLachlan gives us an objective look at each little semi-crisis that allows the viewer to simply sit back and enjoy without feeling the need to identify. Adams steals the show with a performance that's only improved by the lack of restraint Morrison has allowed her. Her perma-perky manner could have so easily fallen into the territory of annoyance given a lesser script or actress, but thanks to Adams's gift for handling such a role, and the film's surrounding cast of quirky yet composed personalities, she's pure gold. The commentary by Adams and Davidtz is delightful, as the two actors trade memories, but the collection of five featurettes (including three in-depth, character-specific shorts) provide the cream. Plus: deleted scenes, casting sessions. (Sony)