Last week I went to a small screening of the new film “Judy” starring Renée Zellweger, Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell, and Michael Gambon. I was very excited about this film, as both a film buff and fan of Judy Garland herself. Her career was fascinating, and the end of her life so tragic, as she died at a young 47 years old (younger than me!).
The film focuses on Winter 1969 when Garland’s career in America was floundering. She was unable to care for her two young children and put a roof over their heads. The only way out of her situation was to take a five-week stint in London at The Talk of the Town. During that time, she falls in love and marries her 5th husband and suffers post-traumatic syndrome over the relationships in her life, which we see through flashbacks going back to her childhood as a young actress battling heads of studios and guardians to try to have a somewhat normal life. We discover that even her relationship with Mickey Rooney was fake.
It was an interesting time for screenwriter Tom Edge to feature as the main subject of this movie. After all, we know so much about Garland’s life already. I do find it interesting that her children were not consulted about the story, as they play minor but key characters in the movie. It does make me wonder how much of the story is true, but it feels very true to life the way Zellweger plays her.
Because Zellweger, who is back acting after a long hiatus, is back and better than ever. She has fully taken on the character of Judy Garland with her dress, mannerisms, facial expressions, accent, and movements. She did her own singing in the film, taking on legendary songs such as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. My favorite scene in the movie is when she meets two of her biggest fans after a show and, feeling lonely and bitter about her life, she invites them to dinner. The pair, two gay men who had suffered terrible abuse by society (this is in the 1960s after all, embrace her and take her into their home and end up having a beautiful moment of truth together.
“Judy” may not be the best film you will ever see, but it has heart, and it has Renée Zellweger. Enough said.