Renée Zellweger in Judy.
WHERE TO WATCH:
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Winter 1968 and showbiz legend Judy Garland arrives in Swinging London to perform a five-week sold-out run at The Talk of the Town. It’s 30 years since she shot to global stardom in The Wizard of Oz, but, while her voice may have weakened, its dramatic intensity has grown.
As she prepares for the show, charms musicians, battles with management, and reminisces with friends and adoring fans, her wit and warmth shine through. Even her dreams of love seem undimmed as she embarks on a whirlwind romance with Mickey Deans, her soon-to-be-fifth husband. Featuring some of her best-known songs, the film celebrates the voice, the capacity for love, and the sheer pizzazz of “the world’s greatest entertainer”.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
‘If I am a legend, then why am so lonely,’ Judy Garland.
The new biopic of the singer and actress explores the tragic last year of her life. The above quote perfectly summarises the theme throughout the heart-wrenching story.
Judy Garland, after a lifetime in the spotlight, was a lonely person who only ever found acceptance and love when she was on stage. But the thing that she loved the most was also her undoing. She had a toxic relationship with fame – she craved it for validation – but it also ate away at her.
There is a scene towards the end of the movie where we see a young Judy (Darci Shaw) revel in the crowd’s adoration that perfectly encapsulates her troubled career.The film directed by Rupert Goold is an adaptation of the Tony-nominated play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter. It centres on her last concerts in 1969 at Talk of the Town in London.
We meet Judy (Renée Zellweger) down on her luck, performing with her two younger children in debt, without a place to stay. She takes on the five-week concert for the money so that she can get her children to live with her.
The present is juxtaposed with the past giving us flashbacks of a younger Judy and her mistreatment by MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer (Richard Cordery) who overworked her, got her addicted to sleeping pills and appetite suppressants. All of his interactions with Judy will make your skin crawl.
As a result of this, older Judy struggles with addiction, insomnia, an eating disorder and other health issues. By the time Judy gets to London, she is so broken and tired that she needs to be forced onto the stage to sing. Oh, but when she sings, she comes alive.
This is without a doubt Renée’s show and her triumphant comeback after her six-year break. The actor encapsulated the legendary actress to a T. In an interview Renée revealed that she took music lessons, studied choreography and researched Judy extensively. She spent two hours a day in the make-up chair to transform into the legendary actress, which included wearing contact lenses, wigs, and prosthetics.
And while most of the storyline is sombre – and, man, does she crush the rock bottom moments – there are some light moments where Renée’s comedic timing shines. Her standout musical performances include By Myself and Over The Rainbow. With a Golden Globe already in the bag, Renée’s road to the Oscars is set too.
When it comes to the supporting cast, Darci Shaw was a standout. As younger Judy, she displayed grit and fighting spirit. The systematic abuse she endured will tug at your heartstrings.
The film also serves as a cautionary tale for young children in the entertainment industry and the care that should be taken when it comes to their overall well-being. Judy will stir all the emotions in you, and you will not be able to take your eyes off Renée Zellweger.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: