Judy Berlin

A gentle, offbeat drama that hails the arrival of a new talent in writer-director Eric Mendelsohn, and bids a poignant farewell to a uniquely gifted actress, the late Madeline Kahn. It's the second day of school in the middle-class New York City suburb of Babylon (just one burg east of Hal Hartley's Lindenhurst), and as the town anxiously awaits a noontime...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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A gentle, offbeat drama that hails the arrival of a new talent in writer-director Eric Mendelsohn, and bids a poignant farewell to a uniquely gifted actress, the late Madeline Kahn. It's the second day of school in the middle-class New York City suburb of Babylon

(just one burg east of Hal Hartley's Lindenhurst), and as the town anxiously awaits a noontime solar eclipse, the lives of a few of its inhabitants are also about to realign themselves. Sour grade-school teacher Sue Berlin (Barbara Barrie) will pause to consider her miserable life and take a stab

at romance with the school's unhappily married principal, Arthur Gold (Bob Dishy). Arthur's flaky wife, Alice (Kahn), will stop her inane chatter just long enough to ponder her age and loneliness, and maybe the fact that her totally indifferent husband and depressed son David (Aaron Harnick), a

30-year-old aspiring filmmaker, really do seem to hate her. David is trying to figure out what happened to his youth, and kids himself that he's found it in Sue's plucky, 32-year-old daughter Judy (Edie Falco), an aspiring actress who's been honing her craft churning butter at a nearby colonial

restoration, and is now ready for Hollywood. As Judy makes her rounds, saying good-bye to her hometown, the moon crosses the sun's path, the sky begins to darken and time suddenly seems to stop. With such a fine cast of seasoned actors — Barrie, Falco and Dishy are all superb, and Kahn is

heartbreaking — it's easy to overlook just how subtle a director Mendelsohn is. With a nimble touch, he reveals the isolation and vulnerability beneath the placid, almost banal surface of suburban existence. Jeffrey Seckendorf's camera snakes in and out of the characters' lives, capturing the

small, telling details in sharp black and white and an ever-deepening half light that increases the film's otherworldly, almost surreal aura.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A gentle, offbeat drama that hails the arrival of a new talent in writer-director Eric Mendelsohn, and bids a poignant farewell to a uniquely gifted actress, the late Madeline Kahn. It's the second day of school in the middle-class New York City suburb of… (more)

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