Published On: Wed, Sep 25th, 2019

‘Judy’ Review: Renee Zellweger shines in tragic Judy Garland biopic

If you are fascinated with biopics and enjoy behind-the-scenes perspectives, then Judy is a film for you.  However, be warned that it’s by no means a feel-good experience.  The story revolves around the Judy Garland’s series of 1969 London concerts shortly before her death and focuses on just how horrible her life had become at that point in time.  This is definitely not an “over the rainbow” situation and you expect to leave the theater wondering, “Where was her intervention?!?! Did no one care about her?”  

Renee Zellweger in “Judy”

The film explains how Ms. Garland developed a severe dependency problem through a series of flashbacks to the making of the classic film The Wizard of Oz.  Teenage Judy’s life was not her own. The film studio controlled every aspect of her life and managed an insane production schedule including set up opportunities for photographers to capture images of her appearing to live the life of a girl-next-door teenager.  Even the pictures of her 16th birthday were staged with people she didn’t know, a cake she couldn’t even consider tasting, and scheduled two months before her true birthday to ensure it would not conflict with the filming schedule.

But even more incredible than Judy’s early life experiences is the performance by Renee Zellweger as the adult singer/actress.  Zellweger’s transformation is truly remarkable and Oscar-worthy capturing Judy’s voice, facial expressions, and mannerisms. I found myself looking at the screen trying to find Zellweger underneath the costumes and make-up, but all I could see was Judy.  Aside from the fabulous mimicking of the timeless star, Zellweger leaves it all on the stage demonstrating a vast range of emotional expression. Her work was so spectacular that I don’t want to say more for fear that viewer expectations will be raised to a ridiculous level and lead to unnecessary disappointment.  (But she really was fabulous!)

The rest of the cast was very good in each of their roles.  I can’t think of anything negative to share about their performances; they’re simply out shone by Zellweger.  Similarly, the story itself isn’t bad, but it is extremely sad, depressing, and tragic. To think that someone was spiraling so far out of control on stage in front of an audience is almost unbelievable.  But the accuracy of the film compared to the footage available on YouTube is quite impressive.

Judy is not a family film.  If you make the mistake of taking children, you’ll have a hard time staying engaged because they will not be entertained at all.  But for those of you who enjoy classic musicals and learning about the private lives of celebrities, you’ll definitely enjoy a quiet movie-going experience. 

Judy earns 7 out of 10 stars

Author: Debbie Sage


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