Ellen Page Comes Through Again|
by Laura Belle, published on April 13, 2008
Ellen Page made the world notice her last winter starring as the pregnant teenager in Juno. She carried the film with her dry humor and sharp wit. Now, a few months later, she costars in Smart People, and has several others to match wits with. Although the two characters in these two films are very different, it's hard not to compare them.
Page played the title character in Juno, the young girl who found herself pregnant by her friend. Despite her comments and her sardonic wit making her come off as if she had a much harder edge, in some ways she was actually quite an innocent, especially in the manner of which she carried out her relationships. Yet in Smart People, she still has that same edge to her, yet her character, Vanessa, comes off as quite older and more worldly than Juno. Instead of belonging to a band, and hanging out with her friends, she's studying for her SATs, belonging to the Young Republicans, and cooking and cleaning for the household after the death of her mother.
It seemed like most of the clever, funny lines in Juno came out of her own mouth, but in Smart People, she seems to be able to match wits really well with Dennis Quaid as her father, Thomas Hayden Church as her uncle, and Sarah Jessica Parker as her father's doctor, later turned girlfriend. Even in just her first scene, she's answering the phone call from Parker who is asking for Mrs. Wetherhold, telling the doctor her mother has been dead for years, but thanking her for the painful reminder. Some of Page's best lines, though, come out of her conversations with Church, playing her uncle, such as when he asks her to smoke pot with him, and she tells him she feels like she's in an Afterschool Special.
Page's father in Juno seems to do more to take care of his daughter, going to the extent of driving her to the house of the parents that are interested in adopting her child, yet Quaid, as her father in Smart People, doesn't seem to take care of much in his daily life. An English professor, he is pursuing the position of department head and is also shopping around a book he has written, yet he doesn't even take the time to get to know his students, let alone his daughter.
Acting as mother to the family, Page's character in Smart People takes an unhealthy interest in her father and uncle, and it comes out in a jealousy displayed against her father's first date since the death of her mother. After getting a head injury and being treated by Parker's character, and despite the fact she was once his student, they begin a very uneasy relationship with each other. She soon finds he's the same pompous jerk that made her switch her major from English to Biology.
Towards the end of Juno, she learns from her father that it is possible for two people to remain in love, as the "right person's still going to think the sun shines out your ass," yet in Smart People, she's learning from her uncle that for smart people like them, they don't need to compensate with good social skills. Either way, it leads to a young girl being educated, but with Smart People, it's so much more of an unexpectedly darker film, that the lessons are just as dark.
Smart People is recommended by LauraBelle