Australasian Cinema > films >


Judy and Punch

Judy and Punch (Mirrah Foulkes, 2019) wr. Mirrah Foulkes, prod. Michele Bennett, Nash Edgerton, Danny Gabai, for Vice Media LLC, Blue-Tongue Films, Pariah Productions, dp Stefan Duscio; Damon Herriman, Mia Wasikowska, Tom Budge, Benedict Hardie, Terry Norris; drama; released 21 November
Damon Herriman won Best Actor at the AACTAs 2019; François Tétaz won Best Original Music Score. There were also nominations for Best Direction, Best Film, Best Lead Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Editing (Dany Cooper), Best Production Design (Josephine Ford), and Best Costume Design (Edie Kurzer).

In Seaside (which is nowhere near the sea) puppeteers Judy and Punch are trying to resurrect their marionette show in an anarchic town on the brink of mob rule. The show is a hit due to Judy’s superior puppeteering, but Punch’s driving ambition and penchant for whisky lead to an inevitable tragedy that Judy must avenge. When Punch accidentally kills his baby during a drinking binge, his wife Judy - having suffered a violent beating - teams up with a band of outcast heretics to enact revenge on Punch and the entire town of Seaside.


Damon Herriman and Mia Wasikowska

There’s a danger in this kind of exercise, especially when you’re dealing with comedy. Charles Dickens once summed up Punch and Judy as “an outrageous joke which no one in existence would think of regarding as an incentive to any kind of action or a model for any kind of conduct”. And he was probably right. Any taint of earnestness would have killed this film, as Foulkes is clearly aware. As a result, she’s cannily approached it in the spirit with which it was meant. She’s successfully matched its urge to amuse and outrage with her own. Sandra Hall, SMH.

Garry Gillard | New: 7 February, 2017 | Now: 3 July, 2020