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VOD Review: June Again

January 7, 2022

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

The opening scene of writer-director JJ Winlove’s Australian dramedy June Again tries to put us in the mind of its protagonist, June Wilton (Noni Hazlehurst), a woman suffering from vascular dementia following a stroke five years earlier.

People around her seem to appear and disappear as the camera angles change, creating a sort of disorientation that sets the stage for the film. She is living in a home on a locked floor, but barely remembers her surroundings, until one morning when she wakes up with her memories seemingly intact.

The doctor (Wayne Blair) concludes that she is having a rare moment of lucidity, but it may only last a few hours, so he warns her to stay put. Instead, the feisty June bolts from the home to spend the day reconnecting with her family and her past.

It’s an interesting premise that requires a number of tonal shifts, as the film finds June discovering how much around her has changed over the five years that she has been “gone.” The bulk of the story focuses on her trying to save the family’s failing wallpaper business, and bring her estranged children Ginny (Claudia Karvan) and Devon (Stephen Curry) back together, before her memory fades again. Much of June’s frustration comes from realizing all of the ways that Ginny and Devon have strayed from the paths she set out for them, and she isn’t about to give up the opportunity to set them right.

Because of its subject matter, and close proximity in terms of release, comparisons to Florian Zeller’s Oscar-winning The Father are almost inevitable. Winlove’s film foregoes the utter devastation of Zeller’s drama, which remains the gold standard for cinematic depictions of dementia with its heart-wrenching Anthony Hopkins performance, and plays out more like a family dramedy.

Winlove doesn’t play June’s condition for laughs, but his film certainly has a more lighthearted feel to it at times. He doesn’t quite nail all of the tonal shifts, and the film’s somewhat overly sunny disposition, including Christopher Gordon’s distractingly upbeat, TV movie musical score, can clash with the subject matter. But June Again has enough heartfelt moments to make up for the more predictable and heavy-handed ones.

The glue that holds it all together is Hazlehurst, who delivers a very good performance as a woman rediscovering elements of her life that have been forgotten, doing a subtle and moving job of showing her character’s shifts in awareness and cognitive ability throughout the film. Her sensitive performance elevates the film, making June’s journey an often emotional one to watch.

June Again is now available on a variety of Digital and VOD platforms. It’s being distributed in Canada by Vortex Media.

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