Sunday, November 10, 2019

Movie Review: "Judy" (2019)

Director: Rupert Goold
Year: 2019
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 58 minutes

With a waning career, in financial ruin, with few prospects, and in danger of losing her kids, famous actress and singer Judy Garland heads to England to perform in a house show which she hopes will give her the financial stability to find a permanent home for her and her children.

Renée Zellweger and Finn Wittrock star as Judy Garland and Mickey Deans in the 2019 biopic movie "Judy"
"I'm only Judy Garland for an hour a night." (Image Source)
"Judy" is directed by Rupert Goold, who has directed movies like "True Story" and the made-for-TV film "King Charles III." The screenplay is written by Tom Edge, who is best known for creating the Netflix series "Love Sick," and it is based on the biography "End of the Rainbow" by Peter Quilter. This feature takes place during the last few months of Judy Garland's (Renée Zellweger) life. At the start of the film, it has been years since Judy has had a role in a feature-length picture. She is deep in debt and is trying her best to make ends meet by doing small club gigs here and there, dragging her kids along for the ride. When she gets locked out of the hotel they have been living in, Judy breaks down and drops her kids off with her ex-husband, Sid Luft (Rufus Sewell). Desperate to earn some money so she can once again be with her children, Judy takes a well-paying gig in England where she is still a smash hit. Taking this job means getting money so she can gain some form of stability for her and her family, but it also means being away from her kids as well. Just as things seem to be brightening up for her, Judy's past demons start to take a toll, putting her career in jeopardy once again.
Judy Garland (Renée Zellweger) singing on stage in a gold outfit surrounded by showgirls in the film Judy (2019)
"Frank is great, but he's no Judy Garland. I bet it kills him." (Image Source)
Most people who know anything about "the pictures" know who Judy Garland is. Whether you've seen the majority of her filmography or just "The Wizard of Oz," you know her name and probably, more so, her iconic voice. What some people may not know is the tragic end of the star's life and the events in her childhood that led to her untimely, unfortunate fate. If you're one of the people who don't know anything about Garland, "Judy" is the kind of biopic film that may detrimentally damage your perception of old Hollywood and the previously mentioned all-time classic "The Wizard of Oz." Her experiences sure put her through the wringer. Via flashbacks, this film explores how Garland's treatment as a child star where she was fed uppers and downers, forced to work long days for MGM, and told not to eat anything but black coffee and thin chicken soup led to a life full of an addiction to pills, the abuse of alcohol, a slew of illnesses, yo-yo dieting, the inability to sleep, and more. These flashbacks are juxtaposed with Judy's sold-out "comeback" gigs in London where she desperately tried to reclaim her former glory in a haze of pills, booze, depression, adoration, and sometimes disappointment.

As a whole, "Judy" is a rather basic, by-the-numbers biopic about a star fallen from grace that burned too bright and was extinguished too soon. What is anything but basic, however, is Renée Zellweger's performance as Judy Garland. We think Zellweger is magnificent in the titular role. She does a terrific job and goes all-in, capturing both the spirit and the struggles of the famed actress with Oscar-worthy ease. Zellweger also showcases her impressive singing chops again (we thought she did a great job in the Oscar-winning "Chicago"), emulating and capturing the wobbliness and runs and cracks of Garland's trill. If nothing else, "Judy" is worth watching for her performance alone. The rest of the cast is good, but, much like Garland upstaged pretty much anyone else, this is basically Zellweger's show from start to finish. There are also some fabulous costumes, wigs, and make-up work, all of which aid in bringing Judy's dynamic look to life in ways that make Zellweger nearly unrecognizable from some angles.
Renée Zellweger talks to Bella Ramsey and Lewin Lloyd in a "Judy" movie still
"I'm coming straight back for you." (Image Source)
Rupert Goold's "Judy" doesn't add any new insight for those familiar with Garland's storied life, but it was compelling enough for us to recommend it.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
RT Rating: 83%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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