Film review: Put-upon mother’s journey of discovery is magical

Updated 27 March 2019

Film review: Put-upon mother’s journey of discovery is magical

  • The movie has similarities with “Eat Pray Love” starring Julia Roberts and “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon
  • But Juanita is the first film in this genre to have a black woman in the starring role

DUBAI: Children using emotional blackmail to manipulate their parents is an age-old theme, but for one mother it sparks a voyage of discovery.

Latest Netflix original “Juanita” tells the story of a hard-working mother, fed up with her deadbeat grown kids and marginal urban existence, who takes a bus trip to Montana where she reinvents herself.

Adapted from Sheila Williams’ novel “Dancing on the Edge of the Roof” and directed by Clark Johnson, this taut 90-minute drama follows Juanita (Alfre Woodard) as she rises above the mundane to transform her life.

The black mum works as a night nurse in a hospice for the ill and aged, while at home she has three adult children and a granddaughter to worry about.

Juanita’s son, Randy (Marcus Henderson), is in jail, her other son, Rashawn (Acorye’ White), is playing a cat-and-mouse game with the cops, and her daughter, Bertie (Jordan Nia Elizabeth), has little time to take care of her daughter, and pushes her mother to babysit.

To escape her oppressively boring life, Juanita fantasizes about Blair Underwood, an American television star, but when this starts to wear thin, she takes a Greyhound coach to a virtually unknown town where a meeting with uppity chef Jess Gardner (Adam Beach), sets in motion a chain of magical events.

Their first meeting is hilarious, with Juanita trying to cajole an obstinate Jess to make an American breakfast when he is bent on making it French style.

The movie has similarities with “Eat Pray Love,” where after a painful divorce Julia Roberts goes on a round-the-world trip, and “Wild” in which Reese Witherspoon takes a solo hike to recover from a personal tragedy.

But Juanita is the first film in this genre to have a black woman in the starring role, and Juanita’s rebellious streak injects novelty into the narrative.

The script, penned by Woodard’s husband Roderick M. Spencer, has patches of unevenness, but the actress deftly pilots the film through the difficult bits to dramatize some people need to embark on adventures to rediscover themselves.

Woodard brilliantly conveys Juanita’s disappointment and pain which later turns to joy and a sense of fulfilment.

Watch the trailer here:


Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra considers role in Arabic films

Updated 03 August 2020

Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra considers role in Arabic films

DUBAI: Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas revealed in an interview with Africa News this week that she would “love to” star in Arabic films.

“I just don’t speak the language,” said Chopra Jonas. “I think that I would love to be a part of the film industry anywhere. I love my job and I would learn a new language if I have to.”

The 38-year-old producer, who has a couple of Hollywood flicks under her belt, said she is working on an unscripted series with her husband, the American singer and songwriter Nick Jonas.

“I am developing a show with my husband which is for Amazon. It is based on the Indian tradition of sangeet (a music-filled pre-marriage ceremony),” she said.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Felt like wearing a saree. So I did...At home. Miss everyone. @nickjonas

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She is also working on a new series for Amazon, produced by the Russo brothers, and a “buddy comedy” with actress Mindy Kaling.

The UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and the former Miss World has been using her social media platforms over the past few months to raise awareness about the coronavirus pandemic.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

@nickjonas

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Chopra Jonas, who started her career 20 years ago, has hosted an Instagram session with doctors and experts from the World Health Organization who answered frequently asked questions about the virus.