As a child, I had a morbid fascination with the Punch and Judy puppet show. The characters were dark and sinister, and I was captivated by the power dynamics. Not to mention the macabre sight of a baby being thrown down the stairs. It all seemed a bit too much for a child, but there was something about it that drew me in.
So when I heard that director Mirrah Foulkes had created a feature-length film based on this classic puppet show, I knew I had to watch it. I had no idea what to expect, but I was intrigued by the premise and what Foulkes could do with it.
What's Judy & Punch About?
The story takes place in the small town of Seaside, a nod to the original puppet show's former home on English beach resorts. Although no date is given for this story, it appears to be set in a historical period that combines elements of the Shakespearean and Dickensian eras.
The local public house is where Punch and Judy perform their puppet show for the towns folk. Punch, played brilliantly by Damon Herriman, considers himself the finest puppeteer in the land. However, it's his wife Judy (Mia Wasikowska) who is the real secret behind the show's success.
Punch dreams of making it big in London and becoming a famous entertainer. When his aspirations are not realized, he becomes increasingly frustrated and resentful of his situation.
As a result, he turns to drink to cope with his disappointments, leading to a downward spiral of destructive behavior.
During an alcohol-fueled night, Punch's violence sparks a series of events that kickstarts the movie's plot.
Judy & Punch Official Trailer
Is Judy & Punch Worth Watching?
Judy & Punch offers a fresh and modern take on a classic tale. The director Mirrah Foulkes did an excellent job, particularly in her ability to balance the film's darker themes with moments of humor.
Fans of twisted stories are sure to enjoy this film. It is not for the faint of heart, as it contains some graphic and violent scenes. Nevertheless, it also has moments of tenderness that add depth to the story.
The film's overall aesthetic is visually striking, with a unique blend of Shakespearean and Dickensian styles that transport the viewer to a different time.
One of the film's strongest aspects is its cast. Damon Herriman and Mia Wasikowska give standout performances as Punch and Judy, respectively.
Foulkes also did a great job in her handling of the film's feminist themes. While the story is based on a traditional folktale, she was able to subvert viewers' expectations and deliver a thought-provoking and entertaining movie.
For a debut film, one can only really say – that's the way to do it!
Other Mia Wasikowska Movies
Mia Wasikowska is best known for her role as Alice in Tim Burton's reimagining of Lewis Carroll's classic novels. In 2010 she starred in the first movie Alice In Wonderland, alongside Johnny Depp (Mad hatter). Later reprising her role in the 2016 film Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Other Damon Herriman Movies
Damon Herriman is a brilliant performer with the ability to inhabit characters that are both offbeat and nuanced.
Damon Herriman portrayed Charles Manson in both the Netflix series Mindhunter and the Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Herriman's portrayal of Manson was haunting and unnerving, capturing the cult leader's psychotic nature. He brought a sense of authenticity to the role, and his performances were a testament to his talent as an actor.
More Movies Like Judy & Punch
If you enjoyed Judy & Punch and are looking for similar movies, here are some recommendations.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) – This unsettling psychological thriller follows a surgeon who befriends a teenage boy with sinister intentions. Like Judy & Punch, it has an off-kilter atmosphere and a dark sense of humor.
The Lighthouse (2019) – This horror film set in the late 19th century follows two lighthouse keepers as they slowly descend into madness. It features strong performances and a unique atmosphere.
The Lobster (2015) – This offbeat comedy-drama is set in a dystopian future where single people are sent to a hotel to find a romantic partner or be turned into an animal of their choice. Similar to Judy & Punch, it features a mix of humor and darkness.
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