Puppet show punctuated by incredible performances in Judy & Punch

There’s something morbidly fun about the tragic, moody Judy & Punch that sets the whole film apart.

A story of struggle, the fallacy of man, weakness in the face of addiction and so many more important themes, this is a film that, for whatever reason, just struck me.

Set in Seaside (oddly enough, nowhere by the water), two puppeteers try to make a name for themselves with their marionette show in a town on the brink of anarchy.

Judy has been orchestrating the puppet show with husband Punch for years, but his bad behaviour and boozing have gotten them kicked out of town after town, leaving them in Seaside with no chances left.

They toil for little cash as Punch prays to be seen by talent scouts. But it seems at every turn, his unraveling by his own vices will doom both himself and his wife.

As Judy, Mia Wasikowska is brilliant, deliberate and biting. But it’s Damon Herriman, who most recently played Charlie Manson in Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, who takes over the proceedings.

He makes a fantastic villain, and I dare say this is his best performance to date. Sauntering and bellowing from the stage, he is vile, and I loved every minute.

In this story ultimately about misdeeds and revenge, it’s pretty fantastic to see it all unfold. This one, right here, lives and dies on its performances.

So with Wasikowska and Herriman giving revelatory performances, Judy & Punch becomes a film far above its weight class.

4/5 Stars

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