The documentary is a lively, moving ode to the American author.
Judy Blume, author of books like “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret,” “Superfudge,” “Forever…, “Tiger Eyes,” and many more, is the subject of Sundance premiere documentary Judy Blume Forever. Formed around interviews with the writer, the documentary from co-directors Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok feels like a warm hug for any fan of Blume. An inclusive group of current YA authors joins Blume’s friends and family to paint a fuller picture of the woman and her influence.
In a 1970’s era interview clip, we hear the author refer to her “instant recall” of childhood and adolescence, which informed the authentic nature and emotions of her writing. This is why her books are still read by kids 40-odd years later. The film moves through the years by book release. For instance, the film discusses mid-century pop culture’s view of menstruation while we’re shown Blume’s original notes for the classic “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.”
Although there’s not much originality as far as the overall structure of the documentary, the animations accompanying the passages Blume reads from her own books are vibrant and striking. The poppy electronic scoring by Kotomi adds to the film’s energetic flow.
A surprising and touching aspect of Judy Blume Forever is the time allotted to the author sifting through letters she’s received from kids. A couple of women who were longtime correspondents to Blume as children read from their past letters and speak about the difference the writer made in their lives. As Blume encourages one of them to keep a journal and write, the author herself admits, “Writing got me through.”
Judy Blume Forever isn’t a complete lionization of the author, although it’s obvious everyone involved holds Blume in high esteem. Throughout, the subject herself recalls her own faults and regrets. Asking Pat Buchanan on CNN’s Crossfire why he’s obsessed with masturbation isn’t one of those, although she realizes, “You can’t debate the zealots.”
Through her decades of publishing, Blume remains one of the most challenged and censored authors. As censorship has yet again become a way for some conservatives to exert political power, Blume’s work and impact stays relevant. Judy Blume Forever reminds us why she is one of the greats.