June Again (2021) Review
AUSTRALIAN movies are once again rising to prominence with the return of Winton's iconic Vision Splendid Film Festival in June, with one of the feature films set to screen being June Again, a heart-warming tale which, despite its predictability, puts family values above all else.
New Zealand director JJ Winlove's directorial debut follows the life of June Wilton (Noni Hazlehurst); a struggling dementia patient who wakes up one morning to discover she is experiencing lucidity from her dementia which she has been suffering from for five years. Over the past few years, June's children's lives have cascaded unbeknownst to her, inspiring her to reconnect with the family she forgot before her dementia remerges.
Dementia is always guaranteed to imbue your film with emotion, and for good reason. The chronic impairment is an awful disease that can lead to confronting and life-changing decisions, and if well-implemented on the big screen, can create engaging, powerful performances. June Again features an abundance of good old-fashioned Australian heart, particularly from the leading trio of Hazlehurst, Stephen Curry and Claudia Karvan who play mother, son and daughter respectively.
Despite focusing around June's journey to restore her once strong family, Stephen Curry's character of Devon ended up being profoundly engaging and relatable. Once an emerging architecture student and successful family man, Devon is now a divorcee struggling to remain motivated as he feels powerless to mend the broken relationship between himself and his son and sister, showcasing how drastically a person's life can change within half a decade.
June Again isn't without its flaws as while it handles dementia with honesty and dignity, the film's comedic elements were either hit or miss. Much of the humour relied on the interactions between June and her children which, in all fairness, were amusing, but these one-liners were sprinkled within somber moments, resulting in comedy that felt confusing and off-beat with the rest of the film.
While it isn't a game-changing endeavour for the Australian film industry, June Again doesn't need to be; the film still offers plenty of emotional moments, particularly during the third act, to keep audiences engaged throughout, and despite being a predictable story of ever-lasting bonds, Winlove's Aussie dramedy is a step in the right direction for the emerging filmmaker.