June Again

Year: 2020
Production Co: Head Gear Films
Director: JJ Winlove
Writer: JJ Winlove
Cast: Noni Hazelhurst, Claudia Karvan, Stephen Curry, Nash Edgerton, Steve Le Marquand

I watched this on the recommendation of a family member and a few minutes into it I was groaning inwardly, expecting the tale of an elderly woman living in a rest home with dementia to be a depressing midday movie.

What I wasn't prepared for wasn't just that it's not about a woman with dementia (not strictly so, anyway), but how much charm and unexpected humour there was.

We met June (Noni Hazelhurst) looking bedraggled and apparently feeling that way too, writer/director JJ Winlove managing the neat trick of conveying the breakdown of her mental faculties by suddenly cutting between scenes and people, leaving us as confused as June feels about whether she's really seeing what's in front of her, dreaming or imagining it or getting it mixed up with other memories or occurrences, looking increasingly distraught at her failure to maintain a proper stream of consciousness.

We don't know much about June apart from the fact that she has a couple of grown kids with their own lives and she used to run a successful business. But one day, June has a sudden and prolonged flash of lucidity, remembering everything about who she is and her life.

She stages a prison break from the rest home, takes a taxi to her old house and in one of the film's least plausible but cutest set pieces, talks the little girl who lives there to let her in so she can go upstairs, rifle through closets and steal decent clothes to wear, evidently a woman who took style seriously before she got sick.

She goes to see daughter Ginny (Claudia Karvan) and is gradually horrified at the state of affairs about almost everything in her world since she started to lose her memory five years before.

Ginny and her barely-there husband Kyle (Nash Edgerton) have blown most of her money on a mining scheme gone wrong. Son Devon (the endlessly watchable Stephen Curry) has split up from the wife June thought was perfect for him and given up on the architecture she was always so proud of him for studying, working at a photocopy shop.

But in the final insult, the wallpaper business that was so renowned is a shadow of its former self, a sleazebag she doesn't even know running the factory and the business all but dead.

While she's in her right mind, June sets about putting everything right. In some instances, like getting the business back in shape, she's completely right.

In others, like in trying to put her kids back on the paths she thought was the best for them, old resentments bubble to the surface and it's going to be an oft-trod comic drama process of learning to love people as they are, not how we want them to be, and realising that the people around you are good enough.

But despite the film giving you enough clues about where it's going, it's got such charm, warmth and good humour in getting there you can't help but like it, with the naturalistic performances and script and easy chemistry between Hazelhurst, Karvan and Curry a pleasure to watch.

When a few weird cuts within a scene signal June's starting to slip away again (as you know she must) it's a little bit heartbreaking, and you'll be slightly amazed the script and direction manages to elicit that in the same film with some genuinely laugh out loud moments.

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