June Again Review: Noni Hazlehurst's Film Is A Grown-up Fairytale Masquerading As An Authentic Real Life Drama

Subhash K Jha reviews June Again, and gives it two-and-a-half stars. Read on!

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June Again Review: Noni  Hazlehurst's Film Is A Grown-up Fairytale Masquerading As An Authentic Real Life Drama

Am I imagining this? Or have we had one too many films with veteran actors playing forgetful creatures? There was that very fine gay love story Supernova followed by The Father in which Anthony Hopkins as the memory vanquished creature, blew the screen apart. And just yesterday there was Here Today.

Now comes June Again, a film that failed to impress me, although Australian critics have gone ga-ga over the film and especially the principal performance. Noni Hazlehurst is an Aussie veteran who has done so much good work in her time, playing a woman with memory loss who suddenly has a lucid phase where she can recall everything from her family’s past before she was institutionalised, is child’s play for her.

As June, Hazlehurst bolts out of the asylum straight into her son and daughter’s far from-perfect lives. I thought she would take off on her own to Melbourne to meet Chris Hemsworth.

What ensues is a cute reformative comedy-drama where June sets to work righting all the wrongs in her family’s life with an arrogant if-I-can’t-do-it-who-can self-rumination that occasionally seems like another variation of dementia. How can anyone believe she can change the world in the tiny lucid loop of her louring life? More importantly, how are we supposed to ride the waves of June’s ‘Winter Clearance Sale’ without questioning her  state of mind?

Reservations apart, June Again is indefatigable in its optimism. With Ms Hazlehurst bursting with autumnal energy, pulling out all stops to give one of those hell-can-I-act performances that are aimed more to impress the Oscar jury than the ordinary man whose wife or mother needs serious medical help, this is a grown-up fairytale masquerading as an authentic real-life drama.

Worse still, once June is out of the institution with the help of a sympathetic taxi-driver, all we get are jokes every few minutes superseded by confrontational scenes with her family that leave June, and the audience, exhausted. Claudia Karvan and Stephen Curry, especially the latter, struggle hard to furnish a credence beyond the screenplay to their characters of the daughter and the son. But both actors come across as self-centred lazy do-nothings who have ruined the family’s wallpaper business.

Of course, family secrets tumble out before we are through with this lazy drama of forgetfulness that tries to titivate the tragedy in titters. Some portions of June Again, like the time June barges into a stranger’s home (which used to be her house before she was institutionalised) and gets fresh clothes from the daughter of the house, is illustrative  of the indolent writing that has no respect for its spunky aging heroine.

Ms Hazlehurst struggles to keep June steady on her feet. It’s not easy. Not when you’re looking for laughter in dementia.

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