Judy And Punch
Dir. Mirrah Foulkes / Dur. 105 mins / Country. Australia
Festival Strand:- Dare Gala
In A Nutshell:- The traditional story of Punch and Judy is reinvented as a darkly comic revenge fantasy in which Judy strikes back in order to give Mr Punch his comeuppance...
The Good:- It’s very timely - taking an old British tradition and shining the glare of MeToo upon it feels very now. Damon Herriman makes for a suitably villainous Punch, by turns arrogant, cowardly, drunken and angry. Dodgy Irish-style accent aside, Mia Wasikowska is convincing enough as the victim turned warrior Judy.
The Bad:- I really struggled to fill up anything in the “Good” section. I just didn't like this film. I expected to (obviously, otherwise I wouldn't have bought a ticket, I guess) as it looked it ticked the kind of genre-blending and stylised filmmaking that I normally enjoy. There was something about the uneven tone of this film that just didn't click for me, however, and sadly I found myself waiting for it to end. Do I think it’s a bad film? No, but it was definitely a film that just didn't click for me. A lot of elements on paper look like something I’d enjoy but combined they just didn't work for some reason (and the blending of different UK accents in one town - Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, etc., while was clearly a conscious style choice, was something that I just found jarring)
The Verdict:- A rare disappointment from the festival - I absolutely see what the filmmaker was doing with this one but it just wildly missed the mark for me.
The Venue / Intro / Q&A:- Director Mirrah Foulkes and star Mia Wasikowska were on hand for the intro and Q&A. Foulkes talked about casting someone that she felt could be villainous and sympathetic at the same time for Punch (to be honest, I didn't get that from the film; I just found Punch to be utterly unpleasant). She also had some nervousness about how the UK would react to her taking a traditional and very British piece of popular culture and putting her own spin on it.
The Cheat:- OK, in all honesty, this was the last film I saw at the festival and, after about six weeks of posting these, I didn't want to bow out on a downer. So I've cheated slightly and swapped this and the last one so that I can end on a higher note...