June Larson (Rebecca Weaver) has been away from her Wisconsin home since her father died a year ago. She’s making a go of it in San Francisco but now has to travel back to Wisconsin because her life-long friend Harley (Nick Hoover) is getting married. June doesn’t want to go back because she never came to terms with her father’s death and now she’s really upset that Harley is moving on without her. Once home, June begins to settle in with her mom (Claire Morkin) and brother (Evan Board), but finds that it’s very difficult to really communicate with them. Even worse, all of her talks with Harley have an awkward feeling to them. They used to be able to talk about anything, but now it seems that their friendship is out of phase and they just can’t connect. Even worse is the fact that Harley’s getting married on the one-year anniversary of June’s father’s death. The young woman is terribly confused and to make matters worse, June suddenly starts to think that she may be in love with Harley.
“June Falling Down” is the first feature-length film from writer/director (and star) Rebecca Weaver and it’s an intensely personal film. Weaver admits to drawing from her own personal experience about the death of her father for inspiration and these scenes in the movie are deeply moving. Weaver’s experience allows her to make June a complicated person whose emotional growth is stunted. June father’s death was a paralyzing experience and the young woman didn’t have the proper mechanisms to cope with it, so she ran away. Now she must face her father’s death all over again (which is shown in flashback) along with the death of her friendship with Harley. Needless to say, June is riding an emotional rollercoaster.
There is a lot to like in this movie. One of its best features is the natural and real dialogue. Weaver has a real knack for understanding what people say to one another as well as how they speak to each other. The dialogue is so good that at times I actually thought I was eavesdropping on June and her friends and family. Weaver is also terrific at capturing the true awkwardness of June’s conversations. Her inability to get to the heart of the matter and just talk around her problems is something many of us can relate to.
What drags the movie down is its leisurely pace. The film is nearly two hours long and it takes nearly 90 minutes for June to finally tell Harley what on her mind. That’s far too long. Weaver lets some scenes go on forever while there are other scenes in the film that don’t move the plot forward. The film in its present form could still use some pruning.
Overall, however, Weaver’s film remains an absorbing movie about facing and making the necessary changes in life. Brimming with finely nuanced performances and clear-eyed direction, “June Falling Down” is an indie movie that has warmth, real characters and emotional honesty. Despite its length, it remains a rewarding cinematic experience.