Judy (2019). Film review of the drama about the life and career of Judy Garland

Rene Zellweger stars in Judy (2019) as Ms Garland
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Drama

2 stars film review fair passes the time

Film review by Jason Day of Judy, the biographical drama about the last few months in the life of actress and singer Judy Garland. Starring Renee Zellweger.

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Synopsis

Broke, desperate and at the point of losing her children, actress and singer Judy Garland (Rene Zellweger) is a washed up alcoholic and prescription pill addict.

She’s given one last chance, a series of sold out gigs in London during the winter of 1968. But not even copious amounts of booze and meds can shut out the demons of her past as an abused Hollywood star.

Review, by @Reelreviewer

Film poster for Judy (2019)

It’s a wonderful thing to have a son big enough to carry his mother to a car.

Judy Garland (Rene Zellweger) in Judy (2019).

Rene Zellweger has got balls.

Big, bouncy, but not hairy, balls.

She needs them as well because it takes a lot of confidence to get up and impersonate beloved Hollywood legend and all-round mess Judy Garland…talking and singing.

It’s the sort of comeback that Judy herself attempted at various points in the 1960’s and, like those, is far from being successful. Leaving aside Judy’s sensitive and touching, Oscar nominated supporting performance in the mega-hit Judgement at Nuremberg (1961) – a film riddled with other troubled stars – she should have stuck to the nightclub circuit.

She doesn’t attempt an out-and-out recreation of Garland and her singing conveys the raddled, grog soaked vocal chords of someone whose seen the bottom of too many tumblers, but Garland’s voice was something else.

In spite of everything she, her Mother and MGM top brass put her body through over the years, that voice always soared above the rainbow she was forever searching for.

Nice try Rene, but that’s all this performance is.

Coincidentally her co-star Jessie Buckley is a fine singer herself in real life, but is stuck with dramatics as Garland’s keeper who has to sober her up and stand her up.

Goold’s tabloid, tittle-tattle approach hardly covers new ground as it’s been common knowledge for years that Garland was roughly hothoused by MGM, had many failed relationships and battled various addictions.

Other films and TV movies have covered this ground before, so it’s difficult to see what he and writer Tom Edge wanted to get out of their version.

They do capture, very succinctly, Garland’s early years of fame. Judy walks the yellow brick on the Oz set with Louis B. Mayer, who describes her many bad points, whilst simultaneously and symbolically mapping out her future.

Cast & credits

Director: Rupert Goold. 1hr 58mins/118 mins. BBC Films/Calamity Films/Pathe UK/20th Century Fox. (12a).

Producers: David Livingstone.
Writer: Tom Edge.
Camera: Ole Bratt Birkeland.
Music: Gabriel Yared.
Sets: Kave Quinn.

Judy Garland, Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon, Richard Cordery, Royce Pierreson, Darci Shaw, Andy Nyman.

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