[Sidebar] The Worcester Phoenix
February 25 - March 3, 2000

[Movie Reviews]

| reviews & features | by movie | by theater | film specials | hot links |

Judy Berlin

by Mike Miliard

Now that movies are almost always in color, one has to wonder about the decision to use black and white. Sometimes it works -- in Clerks, the monochrome drew attention to the trenchant dialogue and captured the blah-ness of suburban New Jersey. Sometimes it doesn't -- Celebrity, say, where it seemed no more than a gimmick.

In Eric Mendelsohn's Judy Berlin, B&W makes the movie. Capturing in stark tones both the quiet desperation and glints of hope in a small Long Island town, Mendelsohn makes the wisdom of his choice apparent as the film climaxes against the eerie twighlight of a total eclipse.

Thirty-year-old David Gold, just returned from a dream-crushing LA defeat, is living with his mother (a superb Madeline Kahn in what must have been her last performance) and father in a seemingly unbreakable funk -- until he runs into Judy Berlin (The Sopranos' Edie Falco), an old school acquaintance. A goofy and spunky local actress, Judy couldn't be farther removed from David. Yet when she confesses to a high-school crush, the two spend an afternoon reminiscing and finding more in common than they expected. As the eclipse envelops the town in an eerie and magical gloom, David, Judy, and other townsfolk wander the streets, connecting with one another in almost Joycean epiphanies.

Judy Berlin is the kind of movie people should see more of -- I guess that's why it's in the Nickelodeon's Shooting Gallery Film Series. Falco is a joy as the boisterous title character (the rest of the cast, including Barbara Barrie as Judy's mother and Julie Kavner and Anne Meara, though wasted in tiny roles, are great too); she and Mendelsohn's masterful direction and the accomplished cinematography give beautiful life to this black-and-white world.

[Movies Footer]

| home page | what's new | search | about the phoenix | feedback |
Copyright © 2000 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group. All rights reserved.