Judy and her husband Punch are travelling puppeteers who return to the landlocked town of Seaside when their daughter is born. Seaside is far less sunny and pleasant than its name implies, and as the opening credits tells us, it is nowhere near the sea. Its residents are deeply superstitious and misogynistic types who enjoy a regular spot of witch hunting and stoning. As one of the locals puts it in the movie “I don’t mind a hanging but I prefer a good burning, but I guess they have to mix it up a bit”. Yes, this film has a very dark but often funny underlying sense of humour throughout the movie. The outwardly charming Punch – who does indeed live up to his name, especially after a session on the grog- fits right in, but if Judy is going to survive in Seaside, she’ll need a different approach.
Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman star in this delightfully offbeat feminist update of punch and Judy from Mirrah Foulkes, making the leap from award-winning shorts to critically acclaimed films.
My surprise was, this is an Australian production. The film is very clever, smart and extremely entertaining. It has an almost gothic horror theme running through it, but doesn’t quite get to the full horror film presentation, which is good. Certainly not a film to take the children to, although interestingly, we get some black and white footage over the credits of children watching a Punch & Judy show from the 1950’s(?). Some faces are laughing and some are showing fright and horror, all of which will be on your faces when watching this movie.
Not a complex film to watch, it is basically a tale of revenge, but a thoroughly entertaining enjoyable movie. It has shades of the afore mentioned horror, comedy and drama with some Monty Python type bits thrown in for good measure. The visual effects are high class and the soundtrack fits the sights and sounds of the time beautifully.
For once I went along without doing any research on the film other than watching the trailer half hearted. It was pleasurable to watch in every way. And check out how the credits are presented as the movie begins and ends. Wonderful.
Weird and wonderful. Twisted and delightful. Maybe the best Australian movie released this year.
Go see it.
Judy and Punch showing at Palace Nova Cinema’s.