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Junebug | Review

Oh Carolina

Directorial debut eases in slowly with simple and attaching Southernized story.

This is “Bush” country – where city folk aren’t necessarily welcomed and where religion, good values and family are what hold the fort in one piece. Like a gallery exhibit – this is about trying to bring pieces together under one roof, and when you’re an outsider looking in sometimes we find that our people’s values aren’t that far-fetched. Junebug is an examination about the “missing pieces”, whether it be art paintings for a gallery or the birth of a child to feel whole – there are always lonesome people and things in all necks of the woods.

Rather than make blatant shots at the mannerisms that are found in people of the right, Phil Morrison takes viewers on an outside look that goes inwards – revealing true dysfunctional folk in their natural habitat. While most may be used to dysfunctionality under a Solondz-like guise, here we have a snapshot which is comparably similar to that of filmmaker David Gordon Green – capturing middle America by using actors among real backdrops of landscapes and people. The screenplay provides a solid collection of thought-provoking moments that can only be found when cultures clash and Morrison’s genuine touch allows for the film and its faulty characters to grow on the viewer.

The cherry on top are the interactions, the miscommunications and the communication breakdowns which are glorified by characters who speak but aren’t really saying anything and by those who are saying one thing but meaning something else. Let us dare not forget to mention the unforgettable performance from one Amy Adams whose does more than steal the Southern Accent, but she charms the dickens out of this screenplay by Angus McLachlan.

This could have easily become a piece of caricatured junk, instead little indie film Junebug comes from the heart and is distilled with a pacing that slowly makes the viewer into a believer. If you like deliberate empty shots, discomfort in the family unit and quirky and honest characters such as in Me and You and Everyone we Know, then this is one of the indie cinemas’ best achievements of the year that should not drop to the bottom of your “things to do list”.

Rating 4 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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