Judy Berlin (1999)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

USA, 1999.  Caruso / Mendelsohn Productions, Shooting Gallery, Starz! Encore Entertainment, Tsg Pictures.  Screenplay by Eric Mendelsohn. Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by Eric Mendelsohn.  

There’s a sleepy, quiet quality about this film that is irresistible. Eric Mendelsohn makes a strong directorial debut with this tale of dreams and longings in tiny little Babylon, Long Island. A very funny  stars as David Gold, a young man just returned from California after failing to make it as a filmmaker, who is now surrounded by all the small and frustrated people he left behind. After the initial pain of having to face his aging, lonely mother (Madeline Kahn in her last film role) and his distant and detached father (), David runs into old school friend Judy Berlin (), who is herself about to leave for California to make it as an actress. Above them is a solar eclipse that shrouds the entire town in darkness for an unusually long amount of time and gives all its residents the chance to examine themselves and come up with new answers for their lives.  Barbara Barrie is excellent as the town’s hard-around-the-edges teacher (and Judy’s mother) who ends up having a soft heart after all, and Kahn is unforgettable as the housewife who still clings to being her husband’s “best gal”, though even she doesn’t believe it any more. Very charming, and beautifully shot in black and white.

Toronto International Film Festival:  1999

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