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Australia 2020
Directed by
J J Winlove
99 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

June Again

Australian screen veteran Noni Hazlehurst plays dementia-sufferer, June Wilton, who has been parked in an aged care home by her married daughter Ginny (Claudia Karvan) and son, Devon (Stephen Curry). Out of the blue she regains lucidity, escapes the facility and returns home, only to find that the world she remembers has come apart over the five year period in which she has been out-of-action. She sets about putting it to rights.

New Zealand writer–director JJ Winlove’s dramedy, his feature debut, doesn’t have the sophisticated formal engagement with dementia of The Father which was released the same year and which won Best Film and Anthony Hopkins Best Actor Oscars in 2020. It instead adopts a more playful approach that mixes the not-so-amusing realities of dementia with familiar comedic tropes as June tries to re-establish her dominance as matriarch.

The result is sometimes a tad too heavy-handed in signaling its messages but by and large Winlove’s script economically and engagingly embodies its central insight that we all need to “let go” and trust our nearest and dearest. Things are, as her children point out with a certain amount of stoicism, not as bad as all that.

This conclusion is achieved with charm through the depiction of June’s relations with her two adult children as she sets about fixing the mess that she thinks they have made of their lives. Hazelhurst is in fine form as the waspish matriarch, June. Winlove creates a convincing portrait of her children as new millennial suburbanites facing problems, both marital and material, which to June, who is in a kind of time-warp, are incomprehensible, or at least, unacceptable.

Playing the long-suffering daughter Karvan is well-within her comfort zone but Ginny’s loving forbearance with her over-bearing mother is touching. Curry’s character is wanting somewhat in development, indeed dramatically speaking it would have been nice to also see more of the support characters especially Nash Edgerton as Ginny’s husband whilst Darren Gilshenan as the family wall-paper business is somewhat of a cut-out villain.  Also questionable are flashbacks to June’s romance as a young woman with an unidentified lover that only become really meaningful late (and perhaps a bit too late) in proceedings.

June Again is impressive for a debut effort and will appeal to its target mature-aged audience looking to feel good about a not-so-good situation.




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