From Still Alice to Away From Her, there have been many great films about people suffering with dementia over the years. This makes it difficult to create a unique film that catches and keeps your attention. June Again does both of those things however, and even though you know what’s coming, it will summon your waterworks as well.
Ever since having a series of strokes, June (Noni Hazlehurst) has been in a state of dementia. Most days she doesn’t know where she is or who her family are. She spends the time staring blankly into the distance. Then one morning she wakes up and remembers everything about her life, except for the last five years. During this bout of lucidity she escapes the facility she lives at. She then looks to regain her life even though doctors warn her that her lucidity is only temporary. She quickly discovers her family live their separate lives, while her business is in shambles. With little time to act, June rushes to repair what she can before her world becomes cloudy once again.
Noni Hazlehurst’s job in June Again isn’t an easy one to pull off. She needs to play a character with essentially two different faces. One is oblivious to the world around her, and one is the take-charge head of the household. To complicate matters, she also needs to play a character somewhere in-between who is slowly losing control of her facilities once again. Hazlehurst was well up to the task however. With a career spanning five decades in Australian cinema and TV, she has a wealth of experience to draw from, and it shows.
Writer / Director JJ Winlove carefully researched June’s condition as well, making it as realistic as possible. The film doesn’t turn into sentimental tearjerker either. Instead it stays driven to telling the story of June’s attempt to reunite her family. You always know where things are headed, and how the film will end, which in itself will bring your tears. But along the way you will smile, laugh and become part of June’s family.
Taking a sensitive topic and turning it into an enjoyable, yet realistic dramedy isn’t easy to accomplish, but thanks to the skills of JJ Winlove and Noni Hazelhurst, June Again does just that. Some may wonder what the point of watching a film is where the lead character ends up where they begun. But the answer can be found by paraphrasing Ralph Waldo Emerson; it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.