View your saved tickets

DCA Archive

Subtitled: Judy & Punch

Mirrah Foulkes

Mirrah Foulkes’s imaginative first feature conjures a town given over to fear, superstition, callousness, and mob rule, where a scourge of witchcraft is met with ‘stoning days’. An allegorical period tale for a modern time, Judy & Punch wryly blends dark humour, revenge-drama tropes, and tongue-in-cheek repurposing of stock elements from traditional Punch and Judy shows (a beating stick, a baby, a crocodile...) to fashion a sophisticated, satirical romp.

"A sophisticated, satirical romp..."

In the rough-and-tumble town of Seaside (nowhere near the sea), villagers flock to Punch and Judy’s marionette theatre. Though Punch (Damon Herriman) proclaims himself the greatest puppeteer and his beating stick rouses cheers from the crowd, it’s Judy (Mia Wasikowska) who breathes artistry into the otherwise crude show. But during a drinking bout and a tragic mishap with their child, the hot-tempered Punch brutally beats Judy, leaving her for dead in the woods. Taken in by Doctor Goodtime and a society of outcasts, Judy plots her revenge.

A combination of gleefully grotesque characters and a vividly imagined backdrop lends the film a highly distinctive tone; there is perhaps a touch of Monty Python or medieval Mad Max in this feminist payback plot, that also evokes the heightened violence of Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge.But ultimately, Foulkes dark vision is entirely and deliciously her own. Take note, you can beat the devil with your stick, but tomorrow the devil will be you.