Judy relays the final year of the late,
exceedingly great Judy Garland and her reluctant relocation from LA to London.
It’s a touching homage to the bittersweet life of performance and stardom,
founded ultimately on the cliched but relevant rhetoric that kindness and
understanding of each other’s plights and individual struggles can’t be
understated. Stripped down even further, it’s the story of Judy as a human. A
single mother struggling financially to maintain custody of her children,
taking any work she can get in spite of the physical and emotional toll it will
claim on her.
plot oscillates back and forth between her early years as a performer and the
year 1969. Juxtaposing the naivety of her career as a young performer with her
twilight years, showing us what changed, what didn’t and what kind of person
she became. It works on the assumption that the audience is fully aware of
Garland’s talent and significance in Hollywood. This effective use of a
non-linear narrative keeps uninformed viewers entertained and offers a new
perspective on her story to existing fans.
truth viewers will take from this film was Judy’s desire to be a mother, which
is relentless in its portrayal of her dedication in this respect. We also learn
that her career aspirations were never really her own, never asked to be a star
but rather left with little to no choice given the enormity of her talent.
Judy’s drug and alcohol dependence is also heavily featured. A sombre but
important part of her narrative that is attributed almost entirely to her
mother’s desire to make her the perfect Hollywood ‘girl next door’.
unreliability as a performer left her with difficulties getting work and
maintaining marriages, the latter being an aspect of her life she would jump
into quickly and somewhat naively – a bid on her part to have a stable family
of her own. The men in her life are all presented as having some sort of agenda
in their relationships with her, whether they are aware of it initially or not.
film also touches on her stature as a gay icon, characterised through the
medium of a very touching scene with a pair of dedicated fans. A tender
reminder of the impact and relationship she had with so many of the people that
adored her, despite the loneliness she suffered. A seemingly vicious circle
stemming from a career that chose her more than she chose it.
a lot of responsibility to play a character like Judy Garland and one can
certainly understand Renée Zellweger’s initial reluctance to accept it, but boy
are we glad she did. She bears a striking resemblance and harnesses all the
charisma and star quality Judy had in reality. On-stage scenes are memorising
and capture the magic of live performance on the cinema screen up close and
without forgiveness. The camera rarely straying in the opening number of By
Myself, a fixating scene that truly asserts her as the talent she is and
confidently sets the tone for the rest of the film. Keen-eyed viewers might
pick up on some iffy lip-syncing moments, but there’s nothing too offensive and
something only really noticed on repeat viewings.
costume, makeup and hair departments should also be commended for their
integral part in recreating the physicality of Judy. The unfortunate toll of
drugs and insomnia are unfiltered and realistic in her appearance. There’s also
a fabulous selection of outfits and jewellery that keep scenes peppy and
interesting to look at, an appropriate nod to her unique and iconic style.
Zellwegeralso delivers a fabulous soundtrack with smokey and heartfelt renditions of
Garland classics, particular highlights being the Trolley Song and Zing
Went the Strings. The musical element adds a whole other dimension to this
film, offering significant emotional depth. SomewhereOver The
Rainbow makes an appearance too, of course, a song that in isolation can
touch the heart, in the context of Judy, it damn-near breaks it.
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