We all have different attitudes about later life. For some, it’s seen as a triumphant era that allows you to look back on all you have given your time to, and enjoy the family you have lived with along the way.
For others, it can be a daunting season of possible ill-health, uncertainty and the pressure of making your last years count, hoping you leave a legacy that matters.
Though for most, it’s a combination of both. And that’s what June Again is all about.
Noni Hazelhurst (Ladies in Black, Long Story Short) stars as June, the once-powerful matriarch of a hard-working family, who is five years deep in a dementia diagnosis, which has forced her into a full-time aged care home.
One day, June wakes up with complete clarity of mind and is determined to leave the home, check in with her family and find a chest of drawers that’s important to her past.
Reconnecting with her children Ginny (Claudia Karvan) and Devon (Stephen Curry), June finds her family are in more disarray that she expected, and she’s surprised by the impact of her absence and the choices they’ve made without her.
June’s dilemma resonates with anyone who has ever wondered what their family will do when they’re gone: will they value the possessions you held so dear? How will they make big life choices without your advice? Can the values you instilled in them hold up over a lifetime?
As June confronts the difficulty of these questions, perhaps, most painfully, she also realises how her absence has improved the lives of her kids in some ways.
Avoiding the sickly sweetness of a perfect family reunion, Ginny and Devon have honest qualms about suddenly having Mum back on the scene in full swing, and June Again doesn’t avoid the reality of them being both excited and bothered by her return.
June’s realisation of her finite lucidity also makes her more willing to hear her children out, and all three find new appreciation for their family history and the experiences each have gone through.
It’s deep stuff, but June Again has been able to weave the heaviness seamlessly with some of its more humorous moments, and the “Australian-ness” that makes it feel familiar and endearing.
June Again is both poignant and uplifting, funny and romantic, and has all the hallmarks of a perfect movie for the Mother’s Day weekend.
June Again is in cinemas now. Rated M for coarse language. It also has some minor gender-based themes.