2005 - United States - 107 minutes
Writer - Angus MacLachlan
Director - Phil Morrison
Internet Movie Database User Rating - 7.6/10 - Link to IMDB
Roger Ebert Rating - 4 of 4 stars - Link to Ebert's Review
My Rating - 5 of 5 Stars

Since I grew up in the South, this movie grabbed me from the start and wouldn't let go. The message that you can't go home again is universal, but the home to which the main character cannot return is rich with well-defined and believable characters.

George [Alessandro Nivola], a man from North Carolina, has moved to Chicago and married Madeleine [Embeth Davidtz], a sophisticated art gallery owner. She learns from her scouts of an undiscovered primitive artist who lives near George's family. They take this opportunity to drive to North Carolina where Madeleine meets her husband's family for the first time. George's family consists of a strong-willed mother [Celia Weston], a loving but extremely quiet father [Scott Wilson], a brooding ne'er-do-well younger brother [Benjamin McKenzie], and a perky, not-so-bright, golden hearted sister-in-law [Amy Adams].

On the surface, nothing separates this film from hundreds of others with the same basic plot line - be they comedies or dramas. What gives it a five star rating is its ability to depict a depth of character and a location too rarely seen in small films.

I would not classify this film as a comedy/drama. Because I hail from the South, the "comedy" that most critics see in the characters and situations appear just as normal occurrences to me. Of course - as in life - there are moments of humor, but what takes place amongst the main characters of this film cannot in any way be considered comedy. This is sad tale of the inability of those who genuinely love and respect each other to communicate those feelings.

Even though most of the action revolves around the family, I should mention the artist [Frank Hoyt Taylor]. This man is a real "character" in every sense of the word. He is a man of apparently limited mental ability who must have been struck in the head early on by a Bible and a huge phallus. You really have to see the work of the artist in order to understand the previous statement. As a matter of fact, his paintings might realistically be considered another character in the film.

The extras on the DVD added greatly to my enjoyment of this movie. The features about the making of it were short but informative, but I liked the deleted scenes even more. I usually can see why scenes have been cut from a film, but some of those deleted from Junebug add powerfully to understanding the characters - especially the mother and father. It's worth your time to view these scenes.

No matter whether you view Junebug as a comedy/drama or as a sad, almost tragic drama, you'll be rewarded with an insightful and entertaining tale.

Neil Turner
January 30, 2006