June Again is written and directed by JJ Winlove and stars Noni Hazlehurst, Claudia Karvan and Stephen Curry. It's a 99 minute heartfelt dramedy. A twist of fate gives no-nonsense matriarch June (Noni Hazlehurst) a reprieve from an ongoing illness and the chance to bring her estranged children, Ginny and Devon (Claudia Karvan and Stephen Curry), together, save their ailing wallpaper family business and search for an old flame. She re-enters the lives of her children and learns that things have not gone according to plan.
With limited time and plenty of pluck, she sets about trying to put everything and everyone back on track. When her meddling backfires, she sets out on a journey of her own to retrieve a dresser from the past that has significant meaning to her and discovers she needs help from the very people she is trying to rescue. The film will be in cinemas on 6 May 2021.
When the film opens, we find June in an aged care home where she's been for the past five years, living with dementia. She struggles to recognise her children, her surroundings and moments in time. One morning, like magic, the fog lifts and her pre-stroke memory returns. The staff are astonished but the doctor is quick to inform her that her newfound lucidity is short-lived and that she should remain in the home for her own good. Instead, she escapes, returning home, only to find strangers are living there, because her kids have sold it.
JJ Winlove's debut feature film lies in the writer/director's long-time fascination with memory. Throughout his extensive back catalogue of short films, the unifying thread has always been a deep inquisitiveness into the human condition. And this film is highly character-driven with a lot of human conditions to deal with, physically and mentally.
From start to finish, the focus is on the central character played by powerhouse actress Noni Hazlehurst, and she doesn't disappoint. She's a revelation that keeps moving forward in her craft. She skillfully phases in and out of bouts of confusion, mastering the subtle look of shifting between complete blank-eyed cluelessness and moments when she is lucid and a touch of recognition steps in. Luckily, her co-stars have a set of skills of their own, so as not to be eclipsed by such an Australian icon of film. She brought from page to screen a delicate balance between comedy and drama and a solid dose of emotion along the way.Not always a likeable character and demanding of her family as a control freak, her delicate balancing act between warmth, vulnerability and a sense of humour keeps the audience rooting for her throughout the film.
Claudia Karvan took on a rather important role as there's nothing more complex than a mother/daughter relationship, especially when you have a matriarch who constantly oversteps the boundaries. The relationship between June and Ginny has a lot to do with what Karvan brought to that character. Stephen Curry at first feels like a lightweight, till the moment he lets out all the emotions in his mother's arms and you realise he's been withholding a long time guilt that was destroying him. Known more for his comedy prowess, Curry brought to the role what it demanded - emotion.
These three central wonderful characters are a winning combination and take the film to great heights. The uncontrived comedy throughout makes you burst forward effortlessly with laughter, yet there are deep emotional moments as well. The combination of the editing process by Oscar-nominated editor Mark Warner, whose credits include Ladies in Black, Mao's Last Dancer and Driving Miss Daisy and the amazing craftsmanship of cinematographer Hugh Miller brings June's scenes of going in and out of moments in her dementia, incredibly clever moments to witness.
Aboriginal Australian writer, actor and director Wayne Blair (director of The Sapphires) plays a cameo role as Dr Michael Lawton. Be warned, you may well be brought to tears unexpectedly, but I'm not going to ruin it for you and say when. You'll know when you arrive at it. All will be revealed when you head over to the cinema to watch this incredible homegrown Australian film I'd recommend to anyone who's listening.