Coming to theatres from director Matthew J. Saville and Greenwich Entertainment comes the story of connection with JUNIPER.
Trouble teenager Sam (George Ferrier) is coming home from boarding school to his home in New Zealand. Dad Robert (Marton Csokas) lets him know that grandmother Ruth (Charlotte Rampling) is staying with them. Sam is not happy when he realizes that she is staying in the room where his mother passed away.
Robert also tells Sam that he must return to England to handle some issues for his mother. That means Sam will have to be available to help if Ruth needs it and help Sarah (Edith Poor), Ruth’s nurse. Now the young man is fuming and makes it clear that he will help her but wants nothing else to do with her.
Ruth tests Sam’s patience over and over again with her relentless requests. As each day passes, he realizes he does not know much about his grandmother and Sarah can help with that. Ruth gets to learn a little about her grandson as well and manages to get his friends to help with the garden.
Spending time together, Ruth, Sam and Sarah form a connection that gives him a look into her amazing life. Sam starts to see past Ruth’s rough exterior and into the heart of someone unique and worthy of his love.
Rampling as Ruth is absolute perfection in this role. She portrays a woman who has had a life that she makes no excuses for. Distant from her son, reaching out to her grandson in the most abrasive way, she once again makes no excuses for who she is or her life now. I loved her interactions with Sam because they were honest to the point of making me laugh. The delivery tone is a ‘take me or leave me’ with the undertone of ‘you know you like me’. Rampling delivers brilliance and I am there for it.
Ferrier as Sam is the typical teenager that thinks he knows everything and has a mouth that needs a bar of soap. Making it clear to his father that being home ‘sucks’ and that he has no desire to be of any help to a grandmother he doesn’t know, Sam thinks he controls everything. Well, after meeting Ruth it is clear that Sam has met his match. Ferrier gives every ounce of a rebellious teen yet his character portrayal begins to melt whether he wanted to or not. Watching the two come together truly made me smile.
Poor as Sarah is the go between having known Ruth more intimately than her own son. She tolerates a lot from Ruth and believes that saving her soul would be of immense help to the life she has lived. That being said, she also guides Sam into truly learning to know his grandmother using patience with them both. Poor is lovely and needed in the story giving such a gracious performance.
Csokas as Robert is a man totally detached from his mother Ruth constantly telling people that she wouldn’t even share important family information. Happy to have to go to England, he leaves his teen son and a caretaker with Ruth. When Sam reaches out to him, it becomes clear what is really important to Robert. Csokas role is not a big one but his place in the story is never far from what is on screen.
Other cast include Cameron Carter-Chan as Shaggas, Tane Rolfe as James, Alexander Sharman as Timothy, and Carlos Muller as Va Donk.
Greenwich Entertainment, founded in 2017, is an independent film distribution company specializing in distinctive, theatrical-quality narrative and documentary features. To see what more is available, please visit www.greenwichentertainment.com.
JUNIPER is such a lovely tale of a woman who clearly has slim regrets about her life and a grandson who clearly has slim regrets about the stunts he pulls. These two were meant to meet and even with Ruth being ill, Sam finds out more and more about her that pulls him towards spending time with a woman he thought held no meaning in his life.
The connection and communication between grandmother and grandson made me chuckle a lot because, oddly enough, I understand it. The generations are so very far apart but, in reality, outward times might change but there is still so much that hasn’t. It is up to Ruth and Sam to discover which is which and that makes their journey intense but amazing.
Rampling is so very lovely and Ferrier is fierce when his loyalty has something worth protecting. That makes this a story of true love.
In the end – life, don’t ever water it down!