Middle Ages, Witch Hunt times… Mirrah Foulkes (the director) is taking us into the small town of Seaside (nowhere near the sea), United Kingdom, Judy’s hometown.
Judy (Mia Wasikowska) is married to Punch (Damon Herriman), a famous puppeteer. Together, they create a marionette show to earn their lives. As the films begins, the spectators discover an alcoholic selfish man who thinks he’s the best puppeteer of his generation. Yet, the truth is that his wife IS pulling the strings. Everyone knows it. And it all starts with a tragic event caused by her drunk husband…
As the story unfolds, you get torn apart between laughing and wincing, between the nonsense of words and the brutality of scenes, between the absurdity and the unfairness of the situation. Even if some events in the story are “too big” to believe it could really happen, the spectator is captivated and wants to know what Judy is going to do to take revenge on her husband! Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman put in a great performance; Mia as the wife full of hatred who wants to get even and Damon as the cruel and violent husband who only thinks about himself.
The marionette show scene at the beginning is amazing. The way of filming and the rhythm of it are outstanding. The film itself is a real visual treat.
Moreover, Judy and Punch denounces and lambasts the witch hunt in Middle Ages multiple times with much humour (“she stared at the moon for so long, she must be a witch!” or “her back is red, it’s the Devil’s mark!”). In a way, Mirrah Foulkes positions herself as a feminist flying off the handle by exposing the fear of women to be killed at any moment for something completely foolish.
Furthermore, the fact that people decide that someone deserves to die for no reasonable reason is also made fun of in this film. It sheds light on the mores of that time when nobody could think by oneself. People’s lives do not seem to be such a big deal because killing people at that time was part of their daily lives. Making their own judgement about the situation was none of their concern.
This movie is about many topics such as domestic abuse, revenge, ideology, violence, misogyny and feminism… but the most important part to remember about this film is that malice always finds its way to where humanity is missing!
If you missed Judy and Punch, you can still go watch it on Thursday (Cyel) and Sunday (Concorde)!
And remember one important piece of advice: dating a man who likes alcohol more than his child and sees women as puppets isn’t probably the idea of the century…