Junebug – The quirky comedy of manners from North Carolina that put Amy Adams on the map

Junebug - Amy Adams

Amy Adams picked up her second Oscar nomination earlier this year for her feisty turn in The Fighter. Her first Oscar nod, though, came five years ago for her standout performance as a small-minded but big-hearted member of a dysfunctional Southern family in the American indie film Junebug.

This was the role that really put Adams on the map and led to starry Hollywood roles in such films as Enchanted and Julie and Julia, but first-time director Phil Morrison’s film itself has slipped back below the radar, which makes Eureka’s Blu-ray and DVD re-release this month all the more welcome.

This low-key comedy of manners revolves around that familiar plot standby, the family reunion, but Morrison and screenwriter Angus MacLachlan give their story a distinctive spin. From the opening scene of two men indulging in the strange North Carolina custom of hollerin’, it’s clear that this is going to be far quirkier than the usual Hollywood fare.

Junebug - Embeth Davidtz & Alessandro Nivola

The story hinges on the meeting of two very different worlds. Embeth Davidtz’ sophisticated Chicago art dealer Madeleine has been married to her husband George (Alessandro Nivola) for six months but has yet to meet her in-laws. A trip to North Carolina to sign up a reclusive folk artist presents an opportunity, but her arrival at George’s childhood home upsets the dynamics of his mixed-up family.

Morrison and MacLachlan mine the clash of cultures for comedy, but there’s an undertow of sadness to their film – and Adams’s touching performance as George’s naïve but well-meaning, heavily pregnant sister-in-law captures this perfectly.

Junebug is released by Eureka on Blu-ray & DVD. The extras include deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes documentaries, original casting sessions and commentaries by stars Amy Adams and Embeth Davidtz.

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