Judy Berlin

"Good"

Judy Berlin Review


Judy Berlin has the unmistakable characteristics of a Woody Allen film (though it's not one). Its cerebral humor, rash characters, and ensemble cast are gelled with a very Allenesque theme: that life has simply passed by the small, predominantly Jewish community of Babylon, Long Island. First time director Eric Mendelsohn, who reportedly worked with Allen on several films, shoots in black and white, and effectively paints a dreary reality for the people of the small suburb.

As the story goes, it is the second day of school and the fall is in full swing. David Gold (Aaron Harnick) has returned to his parent's home after spending time working in the film business in California. He runs into old high school classmate Judy Berlin (Edie Falco - from HBO's Oz and The Sopranos), an outspoken yet dimwitted aspiring actress on her way to Hollywood that very evening. The story follows their respective families as Judy and David spend the day reminiscing while a solar eclipse darkens the town.

The real substance of the film lies in its characters and the stellar cast. Barbara Barrie (Private Benjamin) plays Sue Berlin, Judy's mother, a stern schoolteacher who wears her problems in her forcefully stoic face. Madeline Kahn (Young Frankenstein) is Alice Gold, a recovering alcoholic who has alienated her son David and her husband Arthur (Bob Dishy). Best known for her comedic roles, Kahn (recently deceased) puts on an Oscar-worthy performance as a mother who has awakened from a mysterious slumber caused by the eclipse, discovering she is an embittered housewife with a dismal existence. Her portrayal exudes a sad sincerity with her nasal voice and methodical stroll, but manages to stay light and funny as Kahn weaves her magic. Finally, Julie Kavner (best known for her voice as Marge Simpson) adds an extra dose of laughter into the mix with some great one-liners.

Worthy of much praise is Mendelsohn, who manages to twist an average suburban town into a strange and majestic place filled with dark and unexpected imagery. The film is definitely "artsy" and heavily symbol-laden via the eclipse and the setting in "Babylon," a stark contrast from the thriving Biblical polis.

Despite its endearing qualities, the film has its flaws, especially the blaring harpsichord score, which serves as musical interlude. Also, I found the character of Judy Berlin to be too unbelievable -- everything from her zaniness to the railroad-looking "adult braces" she was wearing.

Overall, the film is a score for Mendelsohn, who should get plenty of opportunity to establish himself as tour de force director in Hollywood.



Judy Berlin

Facts and Figures

Run time: 93 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 6th October 1999

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Fresh: 24 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Sue Berlin, as Judy Berlin, as Alice Gold, as Arthur Gold, as Maddie, Marcus Giamatti as Eddie Dillon, as Lisa, as Marie, as Bea, as Carol, as Mr. V, as Tour Guide

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

Advertisement
The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review

Subtitled Salazar's Revenge in the UK, this fifth film in the long-running series never quite...

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.