HOLLYSHORTS 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! Junie (Danielle Moné Truitt) is attempting to write a book that recaps her roller coaster life’s struggles and successes. As she lies with her boyfriend, Calvin (Jerry Madison Jr.), she is taken back to vivid memories of her father, Davis (Terrence Terrell), when she was a child. Davis, who referred to Junie as Junebug, was a talented musician who struggled with mental health issues. She remembers the love she had for the man who helped raise her, but also recalls the devastating nature of his unbalanced mind trickling down and affecting her in unfixable ways.
The introduction of Junebug is smooth, thought-provoking, and heartwarming. As Davis and young Junie (Calah Lane) play the bongos together, the joy and excitement present on each of their faces transcends audiences and makes them feel the warmth present in each character. Anyone who has ever had a connection with a child (niece, nephew, son, daughter, etc.) understands how important the smile on Junebug’s face is and how wonderful the feeling is to know that you contributed to putting it there.
This early and genuine connection that writer Nicky Davis and director Winter Dunn present the audience with sets the precedence for the short and provides viewers with an understanding of what to expect from the rest of the film. Just as things get going, however, the writer and director flip the script on Junebug and Davis, shaking viewers.
“…recalls the devastating nature of his unbalanced mind trickling down and affecting her…”
As Junebug changes from upbeat to downtrodden and somber, viewers get a sense of what life was really like for the two of them while Junebug was growing up. Though abrupt, the transition is smooth, keeping audiences engaged and in the know. The filmmakers are smart enough to quickly develop these characters and their stories, leaving little time for the audience to overthink what is happening, but allowing them to absorb the emotions as if they were part of the story.
The combination of the writing, directing, and acting helps deliver such a flawlessly beautiful story. The dialogue is simple but resonates with any audience members who have been hurt by someone they love, as it expresses the raw, uncontrollable river of emotions that fill one’s mind. The juxtaposition of love and hate that flows through Terrell’s Davis may not be understandable to everyone, but the ever-popular adage “if you know, you know” rings true here. Those who have experienced a roller coaster of emotion, whether on the giving or receiving end, appreciate the nearly bi-polar nature of Davis, but, even more, understand the struggles of being Junebug.
Junebug expresses nearly everything in the simplest of terms, leaving it open to a wide range of viewers. Nicky Davis and Winter Dunn manage to deliver raw emotions, due in great part to the performances of Truitt, Lane, and Terrell. The feelings present in the short film sits with audiences, and while it does not require them to think, it provides them with more than enough to fully understand each of the equally heartwarming and heartbreaking scenarios. Junebug provides clarity for those who have been in difficult relationships (romantic, familial, and platonic alike), and allows them to understand how important a role we play in the lives of those around us.
Junebug screened at the 2020 Hollyshorts Film Festival.
"…...provides clarity for those who have been in difficult relationships..."