Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 34m
Director(s): Matthew J. Saville
Writer(s): Matthew J. Saville
Cast: Charlotte Rampling, Marton Csokas, George Ferrier, Edith Poor, Cameron Carter-Chan, Carlos Muller, Tane Rolfe, Alexander Sharman
Where To Watch: In Theaters February 24 and on Amazon and Apple TV April 4
RAVING REVIEW: JUNIPER is a film that packs an emotional punch (even if it's a slow burn to get there,) diving deep into the complexities of love, loss, and acceptance. The movie takes place in the beautiful country of New Zealand. It follows the journey of a self-destructive teenager and his alcoholic grandmother as they navigate the challenges of grief, aging, and coming of age.
The film features a stunning performance by Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling, who brings to life the character of Ruth, a former journalist, with her reserved and icy demeanor toward her family. Rampling's commanding presence on the screen is genuinely memorable, making her one of the film's highlights. Alongside Rampling, George Ferrier gives a subdued performance as Sam, the teenager struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.
The film is a coming-of-age story with a family drama at its core. The story begins with Sam's return from boarding school, where he discovers that his grandmother has moved in. As he is tasked with caring for her, at first, Sam and Ruth have a strained relationship. Still, as they spend more time together, they uncover each other's vulnerabilities, leading to an unexpected bond (that part may be a little too predictable as it takes some time to get to where the audience knows the story is going.) The cinematography of JUNIPER is a visual treat, capturing the beauty of New Zealand's landscapes.
In conclusion, JUNIPER is a slow-burning, emotionally charged film that will leave a lasting impact on the viewer. Despite some characters lacking depth, the actors deliver solid performances that complement the film's themes, cinematography, and concerts. Charlotte Rampling, as per usual, can bring a film to the next level just with her presence, making JUNIPER a movie that should not be missed for its transformative story, stunning cinematography, and powerful performances.
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[photo courtesy of GREENWICH ENTERTAINMENT]