One from the archives — watching Miss Juneteenth on BFI Player. I was desperate to go to the cinema again during the UK Lockdowns at this point! and it was great to watch something new.
Such a cheer up as cinema is closed, Bond is moved back again and there’s little on that’s new. BFI Player will have to do!
Miss Juneteenth is like a modern Jane Austen novel. Slow moving, it focuses on a small town; character; what it means to be a woman and how men and women relate to each other; and has the same hidden social shame and hierarchies; polite snarkiness; embarrassing mothers, and women trying to plot their destiny, to succeed and have ambition within a small, often confined, stage.
It’s also about when the Miss Juneteenth dream goes wrong — despite winning the crown and the title, the main character has made some wrong choices, some tough choices in a tough life and is trying to do the best she can for her daughter in a tough environment. She hasn’t succeeded in the ways expected of Miss Juneteenth and yet she still wants to flourish, succeed, win at life; she hasn’t given up.
I love the fact that this movie doesn’t go the way you expect it to go — characters don’t follow through in the ways you expect them to, and the wonderful portrayal of growing empathy and sympathy between mother and daughter, whilst still remaining parent and child. Also, there is life after Miss Juneteenth! I love that the daughter’s boyfriend isn’t a flake like he appears to be but supportive and honouring; that the daughter manages to honour her mother’s wishes and yet still be herself. That you can have a Belle goes to the ball dress and still not win, and yet there is still hope, there is still rising up and a support of ambition and flourishing. What a celebration of women and their potential!
When I started watching this movie, I thought it was going to go one way — but it didn’t at all. The story and the characters went, slowly, in all kinds of directions that I didn’t expect, and having the feel of a documentary, it leaves the viewer to ponder the morality, ethics and motivations of everyone — just like Austen. Plus what is not to love about cowboys and dancing aunties and grannies suddenly popping up on the screen every so often!