Kimya Dawson’s Iconic Music in “Juno”

When does the music truly make the movie? How do certain songs become ingrained in the experience of watching a film?  What kind of thought process is there behind the selection of those songs?

These only seem like relatively simple questions: In reality, one of the great duties of a director is to guide the music in exactly the way to aid the story. There are legendary stories of filmmakers agonizing over finding just the right piece of pop music to finish out a scene.


The best uses of music in film are iconic. Who doesn’t instantly flash on images from The Graduate when hearing “Mrs. Robinson?”  What about the final half of “Layla” in Goodfellas? The music becomes married to the images, and the images are deeply connected to the emotions of audience.

These truths were deeply evident in Juno (2008), directed by Jason Reitman.

As you may recall, Juno followed the misadventures of a teenage girl (Ellen Page) who experiences an unplanned pregnancy.

What was the movie about? Young people. How do young people experience the world? One of the obvious answers to that question is through music.

Upon my first viewing of Juno, I realized I was not readily familiar with any of the music chosen. That hardly mattered because it was perfect.  What’s the first image that pops into your head? Ellen Page and Michael Cera innocently and sweetly playing guitars and singing at the end. The theme of the movie is clearly contextualized in that scene: Juno has made it through a relatively traumatic experience with her youthful perspective intact.

Jason Reitman’s choice for using “Anyone Else But You,” had just the right tone. You most likely had the same experience and know exactly what I’m talking about.

You can relive that experience by watching a concert with Kimya Dawson this Friday, September 23. The concert will be followed immediately by a screening of Juno. Both of the events are free and open to the public.

The Kimya concert starts at 6 in Railyard Tower Plaza. The screening of Juno will begin at 8:15 in the Railyard Park.

Presented by the Santa Fe Film Festival and Heath Concerts, this pre-festival event underscores the Santa Fe Film Festival’s commitment to presenting work from the artist’s perspective. That vision permeates all the elements that come together in support of creating character, tone and theme in a film.