Finally, an Australian film that celebrates an ‘ordinary’ older woman.
June Again is an incredibly raw and authentic film that celebrates the matriarch of the family in her role as Mum. With an all-star line-up, featuring three of Australia’s best – our beloved Play School presenter Noni Hazlehurst as June, Claudia Karvan as daughter Ginny, and Stephen Curry as son, Devon – this film leaves one feeling that it is all too real. All other supporting actors bring life to their characters with depth and sincerity, including the young Otis Dhanji as Piers.
When matriarch June experiences a brief lucidity from her dementia, she seeks to reunite her estranged children and ‘improve’ their lives. The ambivalent feelings children have towards a mother that has such a meddling and officious nature is orchestrated well, as is the welcome change from many films which commonly depict overbearing older women as completely insufferable.
At the same time, the flashbacks of June as the beautiful person that she was outside of her role as mum – a lover, wife, pioneer, grandmother, and outstanding businesswoman – bring depth to a character that may otherwise be perceived as tyrannical. JJ Winlove’s screenplay also perfectly encapsulates how this matriarch’s overbearing nature stems from love, not superficiality.
With decades of experience and multiple awards won between them, the three lead actors are a formidable cast however it is it is Hazlehurst as June that is exceptional. The contrast in her performance as June – one with dementia, the other as ‘her’ – requires exceptional skill as she navigates from being June, the force to be reckoned with and June, who understands nothing. The most heart wrenching scene is June watching a video of herself with dementia, a video she never succeeds in watching to the end, so repulsed by what she has become.
Perhaps if too close to home as an existing or potential reality, you will leave the film crying or instead, reassured that you are not alone, as the film can only be bittersweet with this type of illness. As for the entwined romantic tale, it leaves an unexpected twist; it is frequently said that the things people regret the most are opportunities lost, something she visits wholeheartedly when lucid.
With Mother’s Day being celebrated this month, it is a great one to watch.