Film review: Judy

Synopsis:

Six months before her death, legendary performer Judy Garland finds herself heavily in debt and about to lose custody of her children, which forces her to take on a string of gigs at London club, Talk of the Town.

Our review:

There are those in the world who have such enormous talent that no matter what setbacks they face, they will always find a way to let their light shine. And despite drugs, alcohol, divorce and health issues, Judy Garland did exactly that. 

Judy audiences are met with a confused, dependent and narcissistic woman who has literally been cowed by the world (Garland had a pronounced slouch). Her addictions, self-doubt and two young children provide a backdrop for her fractured mental state which is brilliantly portrayed by Renée Zellweger. In one moment, she is a jaded woman who has seen too much and the next she is a needy child.

Initially, it’s hard to be sympathetic to a woman who appears to have squandered both prodigious talent and multi-million-dollar opportunities, however flashbacks to her childhood playing Dorothy Gale give audiences a glimpse into where it all went wrong. Zellweger perfectly captures the star’s fragility and obsessive need for validation as a result of the horrible treatment she received at MGM.

Judy is based on Peter Quilter’s musical End of the Rainbow and, considering Garland’s vocal talent, there are several musical numbers. Unlike Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody and Jamie Foxx in Ray, Zellweger sings every song without fault, including a tear-jerking rendition of Over the Rainbow.

The cast are all well-known, including Michael Gambon, Rufus Sewell and Jessie Buckley, but it’s Zellweger’s whip smart and erratic portrayal of the star that makes the film. She spent months learning to imitate Garland’s habits, oddities and personality. So much so, that it’s easy to forget that the woman on screen has never even been to Oz.

Zellweger carries the movie just as Garland was forced carry the entirety of MGM and after seeing the devastation that wrought in Garland’s life, it’s no surprise that she became the troubled woman we now know.

Final verdict: 4/5 stars.

Director

Rupert Goold

Cast

Renée Zellweger, Michael Gambon, Jessie Buckley, Rufus Sewell and Finn Wittrock.

Film rating

M

If you liked the movie, try:

Rocketman, Bohemian Rhapsody, My Week with Marilyn, The Mystery of Natalie Wood, A Star is Born (1954) and The Wizard of Oz.

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