REVIEW: ‘Jeune Juliette’ Comes of Edge

With a batting average higher than most of her French-Canadian counterparts (including the likes of Dolan, Arcand and Falardeau), supporters of Canadian cinema would be well served by paying more attention to Anne Emond.

The writer/director has delivered three searing dives into the female psyche (Nuit # 1, Our Loved Ones, Nelly). Her newest film, Jeune Juliette, has a much lighter tone, but the lead is just as complex as the previous ones. OK, maybe not Nelly Arcan, but she’s on a league of her own.

The Juliette of the title (Alexane Jamieson) is a teenager enduring the worst high school has to offer: Loneliness, bullying and the petty behavior from others students who perceive her as overweight. Even though their casual nastiness leaves a mark, Juliette is also aware that she’s smarter than her classmates and it’s a matter of time until she leaves them behind. She also has a sturdy support net: Her doting dad, a sympathetic brother and her best mate, Leanne.

As it happens at the cusp of adolescence, Juliette’s existence is thrown out of whack when she falls for a stoner and Leanne tells her that she’s falling for her. The girl reacts poorly to the challenges coming her way, but with every obstacle comes the kind of knowledge a smart girl like Juliette can assimilate and repurpose.

Granted, Jeune Juliette comes straight from the coming-of-age blueprint, but Anne Emond’s main concern is the characters. Each one of them is rich and unique. We’re on Juliette’s side throughout, yet she has a capacity for cruelty that makes her hard to like at times.

Entertaining, well-made and impeccably acted, Jeune Juliette’s only drawback is that it doesn’t challenge the audience enough. Then again, it’s always nice to kick back and let a movie take you. With Anne Emond, you’re in good hands. Three and a half feisty prairie dogs (out of five).

Jeune Juliette is available on demand via Apple TV.

Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.