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

Alice Through the Looking Glass Movie Review

Alice Through the Looking Glass Movie Review

This much more light-hearted sequel reinvigorates the franchise after Disney's quirky but murky 2010 reboot...

Love & Friendship Movie Review

Love & Friendship Movie Review

Acclaimed filmmaker Whit Stillman reunites the stars of his 1998 drama The Last Days of...

Money Monster Movie Review

Money Monster Movie Review

A sleekly made thriller with a sparky sense of humour, this is also a rare...

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

This closing chapter of the First Class trilogy falls into the same trap as The...

Sing Street Movie Review

Sing Street Movie Review

A buoyant celebration of the power of music, this is the third blissfully entertaining musical...

Departure Movie Review

Departure Movie Review

Complex, dark and very moving, this British drama never makes things easy for the audience,...

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Richard Linklater loosely follows on from two of his most acclaimed films with this lively...

Advertisement
Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

John le Carre's novel is adapted with plenty of inventive style into a remarkably personal...

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

There's nothing particularly memorable about this frantic animated romp, which adapts the iconic phone-app game...

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

While it's amusing and sometimes very funny, there's an air of desperation about this sequel...

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Although this comedy-drama seems to have been written specifically to give Meryl Streep a chance...

I Saw the Light Movie Review

I Saw the Light Movie Review

Writer-director Marc Abraham gets ambitious with this biopic about iconic country music star Hank Williams,...

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

After the formulaic thrills of The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron, Marvel's Avengers were...

Son of Saul Movie Review

Son of Saul Movie Review

From Hungary, this year's Oscar-winning foreign film is a remarkably fresh take on the Holocaust...

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.