Paradoxical lucidity is a rare medical phenomenon wherein a person with dementia suddenly and temporarily regains cognition.
In the Australian movie, June Again, June has been in a home for five years after strokes left her with vascular dementia. One morning she wakes up and remembers everything except the past five years, and she does a “runner” from the home to re-join her old life.
As might be expected, June finds much of the life she knew has transformed. Everyone in her family has suffered substantial hardship since she’s been “away”– trials and tragedies that her own condition kept her from knowing. Aware that her lucidity is temporary, June decides her mission is to restore harmony to her family — to bring together her estranged children and save the family business. When her meddling backfires, she sets out to rekindle an old flame and, on that quest, discovers she needs help from the very people she was trying to rescue.
Actor Noni Hazlehurt’s role as June isn’t an easy one — she needs to play two characters: one oblivious to the world around her and one the take-charge head of the household. Hazlehurt does an outstanding job at helping the audience imagine the struggles June is going through as she shifts between recognition and wide-eyed confusion. The heartache of June’s condition and the impact of her dementia on her family permeates the entire story.
Despite the movie carrying a heavy emotional weight, June Again balances joy and heartbreak beautifully and has light and funny moments. It’s about second chances, forgiveness, family life and all its complexities, and the enduring power of love.
June Again plays at the Salmar Classic on Saturday, May 14 at 5 and 7:30 p.m.
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