Judy Berlin Review

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Judy (Falco) is an aspiring actress, her mother (Barrie) is a teacher, who in lieu of a full-blown affair, must steal precious moments with her school's principal (Dishey), who cannot commit due to his highly-strung wife (Kahn). Meanwhile, their son (Harnick) has moved back home, after a failed stint directing in Hollywood. Maybe at least the younger pair can find happiness?


Mendelsohn's film may be small, but it is a perfectly formed story that peers behind the lace curtains of a suburban Long Island town. With a long solar eclipse used as the film's backdrop, we meet a few of the town's inhabitants, all of whom are yearning to be fulfilled.

Falco dreams of becoming a movie star, and runs into an old school friend (Harnick) who has failed as a director in Hollywood. His equally screwed-up parents are in a seemingly loveless marriage - dad (Dishy) considering an affair with a teacher at the school where he works, mum (Kahn) chattering away to anyone who'll listen. Shot in black and white, the film is given its colour by Mendelsohn's sad script and the superb performances, most notably from Falco and the luminous Madeline Kahn, in her final role.

Small but finely formed, with terrific performances all round - especially great to see Breaking Away's Barrie on screen again, and Kahn's final gracing of the screen is perfectly pitched.