June 27, 2017

Review: JUNE FALLING DOWN at Wisconsin Film Festival

June Falling Down sliderReview: Wisconsin Film Festival

June Falling Down | Rebecca Weaver | USA | 2015 | 115 minutes

Edwanike Harbour caught the new film from Wisconsin filmmaker Rebecca Weaver during the Wisconsin Film Festival. The crowd pleasing June Falling Down combines knowing references to Wisconsin life with an insightful meditation on love and loss.

Beautifully shot in in 16:9 HD, June Falling Down explores the lives of a Wisconsin family dealing with the death of their patriarch. June (Rebecca Weaver) works as a barista while living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her smarmy boss wastes no time getting way too familiar with her. In her performance, writer/director Weaver provides June with a depth which the audience becomes privy to over time. 

As the first anniversary of her father’s death approaches, June must return home for her best friend Harley’s (Nick Hoover) wedding. Naturally the are several layers of complexity that will be peeled away upon viewing, but as soon as you see Harley’s cherubic face, you know June has a tale to divulge about the origins of their relationship.

June dreads the trip home to Wisconsin. Many unresolved feelings and painful memories complicate her return. Her younger brother, Dave (Evan Board), stays high while he prepares for pre-med. Her mother (Claire Morkin, the quintessential Wisconsin mom) has given herself to Reiki healers and meditation. June struggles to make sense of the rapid shifts in her life, which in some instances lead to painful consequences.

Flashbacks artfully enhance the narrative: June’s father struggles with his illness; June stares at a chair and recalls asking her dad to go for a walk. He exists in these bits and flashes now. No uniform experiences can explain how people process death, but these images and flashbacks often present themselves when we least expect them to. Memories linger everywhere in the home and the audience can almost feel his presence even when he isn’t on screen.

Many of us have faced the difficulty of talking to a person about a dying or dead relative and the film captures this awkwardness. At times June’s face is masked only by the pain in her eyes.

Comic relief comes when the local folks talk to June about her father. Anyone from Wisconsin can recognize the types. Good spirited folks who mean what they say and say what they mean. Every one of them has a kind word to say about June’s dad and she graciously takes the compliments about him.

June wrestles with the one that got away. Harley remains close to her, but not in the capacity that she wants. They had big plans to travel together and she never envisioned him as the marrying type. June can’t really stand still. She must make a move, but which direction? Her ambivalence about Harley’s impending nuptials triggers concern, which only exacerbates her feelings about her father’s death.

This heartwarming story guides us through Jane’s pain and anguish with insight and humor. The cinematography will have you booking a trip to Door County as soon as possible. The characters, the local flavor, and the soundtrack capture what it means to really embrace Wisconsin.

Wisconsin’s Own programming often delivers crowd pleasers. Writers, directors, and actors from various hamlets across our fine state come to Madison to share their films to receptive audiences. The cast of June Falling Down attended this year’s festival, which added to the hype and excitement of this film’s Wisconsin premiere.