Juanita affirms the belief that Netflix should stop cranking out movies simply for the sake of it


Never has subpar been so close yet so far away.

When attempting to think of the adequate words to describe Netflix’s recent release, Juanita, I would not say expectations rose high, which was convenient, because neither did the outcomes. Although commendable for director Clark Johnson’s motives and individuality, these could seemingly not make up the divot of disappointment that trailed behind it as the credits rolled.

Juanita tells the tale of a worn down, dull, and despondent single mother of three, Juanita, who is simply tired of her day-to-day life. With grown children– one in prison, one in a gang, and one who is also a single mother– Juanita feels as if she has failed her kids, which spawns from the idea that she is unable to care for herself. So, in the classic, cliche movie-way, she sets off and buys a ticket to, quite frankly, nowhere.

In the seemingly forgotten town of Paper Moon, she becomes a chef at a restaurant that fits the size of the one-store town. Here, she meets a kind family and even a possible love interest. But, with a plot that is as monotonous and mediocre as this, Johnson really had to amp up all of the surrounding effects.

And in the beginning, much like Juanita’s refreshing look on life with the dreams of a trip to restoration, there was hope. Although, not so similarly, Juanita does not afford the movie the same bright ending.

The first thing I noticed as the movie began was its different way of construction– and the term “different” should not be received as a compliment, rather the opposite. Instead of having the typical, possibly even more effective, way of storytelling, the movie jumps from set to set with little explanation or resolve. A character gets in a fight? Next scene. A character dies? Next scene.

With Juanita’s fantasies too often mixing with reality, an inception is formed,  which creates the difficult task of separating reality from fiction, one that I was not too fond of performing.

However, with the odd transitions that the movie encases, the one thing the movie seems to have rooting for itself is the way Juanita addresses the audience as if they are watching first-hand.

In a story-telling manner much alike to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Juanita discusses her inner thoughts as if the viewers are a place to distribute her innermost secrets. This may have been a quirky feature; however, as the movie progresses, the occurrence of them becomes sparse, the theme dissipating as fast as my care for the movie did.

The unpleasant sets and script only add confirmation to my thoughts that the movie is dull and lifeless. Even though Juanita travels to Montana where the scenery is incomparable, the audience does not once get a chance to soak in all that the scenes contain. Rather, they are stuck in grotesque trailers and confined kitchens.

The script is all-together confusing, which also mimics my previous thoughts. This could have to do with the acting that sent ambiguous signals that I could never quite discern. Is she sick, or is she just thinking? I am not even sure because there hasn’t been a word uttered for five whole minutes and with the transitions from scene to scene that provide even less explanation, it is easy to see this whirlwind effect should be left to power plants.

As much as I appreciate and applaud the idea of losing oneself in order to be found, I cannot agree that this film does so in a heartfelt, emotional way. I formed no emotional attachments towards any of the characters and quite frankly, with as little dialogue and total cosmic confusion as there is, it is no surprise that this task was so trifling. It appears that these characters were written without any consideration to audience connection, and it is evident.

With all these failings taken into consideration, the movie did have a resolution I was content with; however, it was far from mending the cavern it created that separates enjoyment from displeasure. Overall, I think it is best said the Netflix should not assume the quantity of “originals” is better than quality.

If they continue to produce such muddles as this, Netflix should consider simply sticking to what they do best: providing a resource to watch childhood-favorite TV shows.