spotlights some big fat culture clashes--small town vs. city ways, art-world bohemian vs. church-going folk--yet social commentary never overwhelms a delightful, emotionally rich portrait of family life. When Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz, Schindler's List
), a chic art gallery owner from Chicago, meets with an outsider artist in North Carolina she's eager to represent, she and her new husband George (Alessandro Nivola, Laurel Canyon
) take a side trip to visit George's family. The visit sends everyone spinning: George's mother (Celia Weston, The Village
) doubts the suitability of the marriage; his brother Johnny (Ben McKenzie, The O. C.
) quietly seethes at being overshadowed again by his older sibling; and Johnny's very pregnant wife Ashley (Amy Adams, Catch Me If You Can
) fixates on Madeleine, seeking in her a companionship that she can't find in her normal life. Junebug
's unexpected rhythms slowly and subtly tease out the past; few movies are as eloquent about the mysteries of family--the hidden rules and resentments, the shifting alliances, the emotional pushes and pulls. Adams' justly praised performance lights up every scene she's in, flowing from comic to heartrending without missing a beat, but the rest of the cast delivers complex and mesmerizing character portraits as well. Junebug
will resonate with you long after it's over. --Bret Fetzer