Title – Judy (2019)
Director – Rupert Goold (True Story)
Cast – Renee Zellweger, Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon
Plot – It’s 30 years after the Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland (Zellweger) struggles to maintain her fame and her sanity as she performs a series of sold out shows in London.
“I’m only Judy Garland for an hour a night”
Review by Eddie on 29/01/2020
Once or twice a year you bare witness to a film that within itself is nothing much of note but due to a singular transcendent performance becomes something worth talking about, one of those 2019 films is Judy.
A time specific dramatic biography of famed and tragic entertainer Judy Garland that follows the superstar in the later stages of her life as her profile dwindles and she takes up a series of gigs in London in financial desperation in the 60’s, Judy leaves a lot to be desired in the overall scheme of things but thanks to the likely Oscar winning turn of its leading lady Renee Zellweger, Rupert Goold’s feature is worth seeking out.
Those looking for a warts and all examination of Garland’s life will be fairly disappointed by this focused effort but watching Zellweger literally disappear into the role of Garland is a site to behold as she inhabits Garland’s very being, from her specific mannerisms through to her renowned singing voice.
In a career that’s already had it’s fair share of accolades and noteworthy hits, Zellweger is likely to never be better than she is here in what very quickly becomes a powerful and raw portrayal of a human whose difficult upbringing in the spotlight and raising up under the control of cold-hearted businessmen lead to an unfortunate place.
Everything around Zellweger is relatively ho-hum with Goold unable to make much of supporting characters like Jessie Buckley’s kindly Rosalyn Wilder, Finn Wittrock’s charming Mickey Dean or Michael Gambon’s business owner Bernard Delfont, with most of the feature feeling like a glorified TV biopic but whenever his leading lady takes the spotlight, Judy becomes a powerful piece of storytelling.
Watching Zellweger fall apart in times of distress, show moments of happiness as she dreams of a better life or most impressively take to the stage in freakishly on-point performances, is gripping stuff and while you wish that the world around her was more memorable, cinephiles and Garland fans will find much to savor in one of best individual performances in years.
Final Say –
It feels like there is still a lot left yet to explore cinematically in the life of Judy Garland but thanks to Zellweger’s incendiary lead turn, Judy is still an important piece of the overall puzzle.
3 omelettes out of 5
I’m one of those in the audience that loved every moment. I thought Renee was amazing. A shoe-in for Best Actress. It is only a snapshot of a chapter of her life. That’s why it’s only a 3 star movie.
I feel the same, for someone like me who doesn’t know a whole lot about the early years and rise of Garland I would’ve loved to have learnt more about her drivers and motivators. Still Renee was just amazing!
I was more satisfied by reading her biography. It’s the singular performance that is worth watching.
I will have to check this one out!