Junebug * * * * 1/2

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Director: Phil Morrison.
Screenplay: Angus MacLauchlan.
Starring: Amy Adams, Embeth Davidtz, Alessandro Nivola, Benjamin McKenzie, Frank Hoyt Taylor, Celia Weston, Scott Wilson.

Following on from this, screenwriter Angus MacLachlan wrote the Robert DeNiro/Edward Norton film “Stone”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the same league but we’ve yet to see what director Phil Morrison delivers after this heartfelt independant gem of a film, which remains his one and only feature so far.

On the trail of an eccentric artist in North Carolina, a recently wed Chicago gallery owner (Embeth Davidtz) gets to meet her new family. But while her pregnant sister-in-law (Amy Adams) gushes with enthusiasm, the rest of the household afford a more muted and reserved welcome.

This is a film that could easily have fallen prey to cliche but skillfully manages to avoid it and crafts a wonderfully nuanced character study and earnest portrait of family pressures. The level of uncomfortable communication between this dysfunctional family is astutely captured and subtly delivered with an array of different personalities on screen and a perfect ensemble of actors bringing them to life. Amy Adams is a particular standout, radiating positivity as the loquacious, heavily pregnant in-law and the only one who seems to have any joy in life. You can almost feel the discomfort and awkwardness from the characters and the situations but despite this, we are still shown glimpses of the bond between them in their fragile, yet solid family unit.

A wise and emotionally powerful treat that’s not short on humour or pathos, making it a near flawless piece of craftsmanship by all involved and a reminder that American cinema doesn’t always need to be bang for your buck.

Mark Walker

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