When Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz), an art gallery owner in Chicago, and he new husband George (Alessandro Nivola) travel to North Carolina to close a deal with a reclusive artist, they take the opportunity to visit George’s family: parents Eugene ({em Scott Wilson{/em) and Peg ( Celia Weston) and George’s brother Johnny (Ben McKenzie) and Johnny’s pregnant wife Ashley ( Amy Adams). The Chicago couple’s presence in the family home starts to exacerbate tensions among the in-laws, and Madeleine and George come to see each other in a new light.

Junebug, recently released on DVD by Eureka!, was a hit at Sundance in 2005 and went on to gain a lot of acclaim, including a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for Amy Adams’ sweetly grating performance as the talkative, inquisitive Ashley. She is very good indeed, clearly seizing the opportunity after several smaller roles in the likes of Drop Dead Gorgeous and Catch Me If You Can. She captures Ashley’s wide-eyed, optimistic innocence, such as in the scene where Ashley gives Madeleine a grilling upon arrival. But as the movie develops – and her pregnancy with it – Ashley does express some dissatisfaction with her situation, not least in her somewhat taciturn husband, and Adams reveals the strain, as well as the forgiveness, of a sweet-natured woman.

But that is not to detract from the rest of the principals, all of whom do good, subtle work. As played by Nivola and Davidovitz, there’s a strong, if not wholly complete, chemistry between George and Madeleine. Both glamorous, and seemingly a stylish, passionate couple, they regard each other slightly warily, as if this family visit is coming too soon in a relationship which has not yet had proper time to develop. Madeleine’s treatment of Johnny says something about not just his need for attention and acceptance but hers also; their night-time kitchen scene, with her trying to help him with his book and he making a bit too much of the moment, is a nicely-played account of cross-purposes.

Indeed, that scene is central to Junebug‘s project, which is to reveal tensions and drama through an accumulation of everyday, and often rather mundane details. The film’s pacing gives us ample opportunity to absorb the implications of the big-city-meets-country (and perhaps north-vs.-south) culture clash. But such slowness can make the film look a little precious and clever on a first viewing. Perhaps this is one of the legacies of its indie background. The ‘warmly received at Sundance’ film is almost a genre in its own right these days – adjectives like Quirky, Witty, Odd, Different and Ultimately Life-Affirming come to mind, and well-meaning cine-literate viewers might find themselves putting their barriers up. Junebug certainly has an opening couple of minutes like that – you can almost hear the filmmakers rubbing their hands in gleeful anticipation of the wry chuckles they will inspire in audiences – but once Madeleine and George start necking to the tune of ‘Harmour Love’, written by Stevie Wonder and performed by Syreeta, the film does begin to seem, well, quirky and different.

Eureka! Have long been champions of highly regarded, often very ancient movies, and in the past couple of years, through their Masters of Cinema series, have been releasing pristine, near-definitive editions of one rare and beloved classic after another. Now they branch out with a lovely double-disc Junebug. As well as the movie, there’s a warm and perceptive, if slightly gushing, commentary by Adams and Davidtz, an interview with Adams, deleted scenes, casting sessions, five making-of featurettes and a picture gallery showcasing the paintings created by artist Anne Wood for the film. A recommended DVD, then, and a film which rewards the more patient viewer.

The DVD of Junebug is out now. Please follow the links provided to buy a copy and support Kamera by doing so.