There are some movies for which you are just not prepared mentally or emotionally. You could watch a trailer for Juniper to get a feel of what the tale is about, but a two-minute montage could never express the depths that this drama is ready to sink into in order to deliver its message.
You could get a sense of what the story is about by watching a trailer for Juniper. And despite the fact that the movie isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel – we’ve already seen films about young people and older people bonding by this point – it nevertheless manages to find its own way to convey a narrative that is both beautiful and tragic.
Sam (George Ferrier), a troubled adolescent who returns home from boarding school only to learn that he would have to spend the summer with his dying grandmother while his father is gone, is the protagonist of the film Juniper. Sam, who is not very enthusiastic about beginning a relationship that he believes is certain to fail, is taken aback when he finds out that he shares some characteristics with his older sibling.
Let’s cut to the chase and declare the obvious: you can’t discuss Juniper without eventually bringing up Charlotte Rampling. There’s just no way around it. Even though there is nothing new that can be said about the Oscar nominee, the actor nevertheless manages to give outstanding performances on a consistent basis, despite the fact that there is nothing new that can be said about the Oscar contender.
Her very first scene is a lesson in acting: Rampling controls the screen, and from her initial sentences you can get a clear sense of who Ruth is, how she perceives life, and what she won’t accept. Her very first scene is a masterclass in acting. Her very first scene is a masterclass in acting.
When you take into consideration the fact that, after establishing the character as a dominant figure, the story immediately throws her in a vulnerable position, which quickly makes you realize how she feels and will continue to feel all throughout the movie, the scene only becomes more powerful when you consider this fact. Screenwriters want to be able to pull together scenes like this one, and writer/director Matthew J. Saville does a fantastic job of creating this sort of situation.
The way that Ruth continues to interact with Sam after that moment is one that piques your interest in seeing how the plot of the film will go. When two people who don’t put up with BS from anyone face each other in a head-to-head confrontation, it is inevitable that the situation will become hostile. And it does.
Juniper isn’t afraid to get down and dirty with two people who are at the lowest point in their life, and she does so with gusto. This means that we are there for some extremely difficult-to-watch moments, such as the one with the cup and the scene in which Sam ventures out into the broad field in search of a particular specific tree.
As Sam and Ruth’s friendship develops, Juniper also moves away from the optimistic and upbeat sentiments that are typical of books of this sort. You get the impression that they are having fun together and have made each other’s life a little bit easier as a result of their relationship. In spite of this, both characters are still in a rather bleak mental state, and the solitary and fleeting moments of happiness that they have will definitely strike a chord with anybody who has struggled with depression yet continues to try to put one foot in front of the other.
The manner in which Juniper copes with her alcoholism is also much different from what you would anticipate from a fictional character in a film. Although Ruth’s habit of drinking throughout the day ends up being something of a connecting feature between the grandmother and her grandson, Saville’s screenplay is cautious not to romanticize addiction in any way, shape, or form. We, along with the other characters in the film, turn a blind eye every time the jar with the gin arrives next to Ruth, but we do so with a certain amount of anxiety for her future.
In addition to this, Juniper does a great job of demonstrating how this specific family fell short in virtually every respect. They lack the most fundamental relationships that one may build with close relatives as a result of living their lives as basic strangers, and a tragedy only exacerbated it such that they drifted away even farther.
Due to the fact that acts of kindness are so uncommon, it is easy to recognize their significance whenever they are extended to you because you are so unused to receiving them. Because of this, the conclusion of Juniper is the most emotionally powerful and moving part of the film.
Even the comedic relief in Juniper has a sense of being premeditated but in a positive way. This is another intriguing part of the story. It is often administered by Sarah, the nurse, and only in very low dosages (Edith Poor). But, because the film never loses sight of the fact that it is telling a serious narrative, the comedic elements are never allowed to dominate to the point that we forget the predicament that each character is now facing. The fact that we don’t get to see much of Poor, who is able to create a tiny miracle with her limited moments, is the one thing that is disappointing about this.
The Juniper is a challenging watch that subtly but persistently brings to our attention the fact that, for some individuals, life is nothing more than a collection of regrets, unspoken words, and broken relationships. It communicates the extremely urgent message that you don’t want to be like Ruth and that putting people at arm’s length pays a very hefty toll in the long run.
This is a message that you can’t ignore because it delivers a very important message. The movie is one of those films that brilliantly captures life’s events, but it also crushes your heart in such a manner that you don’t instantly want to see it again.