April is turning into the kindest june bug month for funny, well- written US indie filmland. We have only just greedily lapped up Transamerica and The Squid and the Whale- and if you have not seen these yet, what are you staying for?- when along comes June bug, a tasteful family drama set in the American south.
It’s laid out on familiar conjecture- who’s- coming- to- regale lines. An elegant town june bug i.e beauty, recently married to a southern hunk, nervously prepares to meet her new in- laws. This is the kind of thing that can drown in life- affirming horselaugh and gashes, and last time a truly yucky film called The Family Stone starring Sarah Jessica Parker voided a seething pail of this semi-liquid admixture over our heads. It’s a kidney I’m calling the weepily.
June bug is thankfully relatively different. Eberth Davits plays Madeleine, an ambitious English art dealer who specializes in primitive, visionary oils, frequently by people with cerebral or learning difficulties what one uncouth bystander calls” slacken art”.
She’s veritably agitated about an undiscovered genius who lives in a hut in North Carolina prattling, growling, talking to himself, and painting crazy battles capes of the American civil war, a kind of Hieronymus Bosch meets LS Lowry, only with crude speech bubbles and vastly large penises poking out of colorful perforations.
Madeleine simply has to subscribe him up and decides june bug with her new hubby George( Alessandro Nicola) to combine this with a visit to his folks, whom she still hasn’t met, despite being married for six months. And of course, she opens up family injuries with George’s mama Peg( Celia Weston), his resentful weenie family Johnny( Ben McKenzie, from television’s The OC) and, utmost gloriously, Johnny’s garrulous and heavily pregnant woman
Ashley, wonderfully played by Amy Adams.
Family pressures are ratcheted up and a absorbing homestretch at the motherliness sanitarium discloses a poignant reason for Johnny’s dislike of his family George, and for Ashley’s hopeless need to be stylish musketeers with Madeleine.
The codger artist with his nebulous delineations of the” nigrins” is in a kind of unstated negation to the middle- class respectability of George’s mama and pater
. Madeleine’s bendy
gorgeousness and extravagantly brought- up social confidence shoot shock swells through them all. Peg thinks she’s no better than she ought to be. George’s lovably shy pater Eugene, june bugplayed by Scott Wilson, artificially sees how shy and spooked she is. Johnny can not stay to get out of the house and join people he considers his real family co-workers at a quilting plant.
But the person stealing the family show is the bulletproof garrulous, heartbreakingly innocent Ashley, who grabs the bemused Madeleine by the hand, pulls her into the house, prattling june bug about their forthcoming visits to the boardwalk and girly toenail- oil sessions, and generally forces the pace of their new neighborly closeness.
It’s a extensively funny june bug moment when she asks Madeleine where she was born the diplomat’s son replies” Japan” and goblet- eyed Ashley squeals” You were not!” Is she sailed over by this june bug incredibly fantastic complication? Or does she, in her innocence, suppose Madeleine is in fact Japanese? She might as well be Martian for all that they’ve in common.
Despite being reticent at first to come back to the family that he has left before, George starts to settle back in, and the film’s most affecting moment comes when the original pastor invites june bug him to sing a close- harmony hymn at a original prayer breakfast. This he does a really lovely scene which director Phil Morrison allows to play itself out at a natural rate.
This is a movie that sheds fascinating and compassionate light on families when a foreigner comes among them, each individual family member behaves atypically, strangely to them, and they june bug come nonnatives to each other. It’s a piece of similar sweet- natured charm I did what I hardly ever do over the credits soughed with satisfaction.
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