Judy, rated PG-13
Judy tells the story of singer Judy Garland as portrayed by Renee Zellweger, who recently won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. The film was directed by Rupert Goold. The screenplay was written by Tom Edge (The Crown), based on the stage play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter. Jeremy Woodhead (Stan & Ollie, Doctor Strange), received an Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling.
The film does not look at Garland’s entire life, but instead chooses to tell her tragic lifestory story in two places, bookending her short life (she died at age 47). First, we see her in 1939, at the beginning of her career, (the young Judy is played by Darci Shaw), filming the classic The Wizard of Oz, in which she starred as Dorothy. Judy worked up to 18 hours a day, was not allowed to eat much and was given diet pills to maintain her weight, as well as pills to stay awake and to fall asleep. She is controlled, threatened and verbally abused by MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer, played by Richard Cordery (The Wife).
The film then takes us to the last year of her life, eventually leading to Garland, played by two-time Oscar winner Zellweger (Judy, Cold Mountain), performing five weeks of sold out concerts at the “Talk of the Town” nightclub in London in the winter of 1968.Before she goes to London, she is basically homeless and penniless. She has two young children, Joey and Lorna, that she leaves with their father Sid Luft, her third husband, (she was married five times), played by Golden Globe nominee Rufus Sewell (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Victoria, The Man in the High Castle). Garland’s goal in going to London is to make enough money to be able to come home and provide a home for her children. The film shows that she loves her children and desperately wants to be a good mother to them, but ultimately she is too undependable to care for them.
After leaving her children with Sid, Garland goes to a party that daughter Liza Minnelli, played by Gemma-Leah Devereux, was also attending. There, she meets, drinks with, and spends the night with Mickey Deans, played by two-time Emmy nominee Finn Wittrock (American Horror Story, American Crime Story). Dean will eventually surprise her in London and become her fifth husband.
In London, her assistant is Rosalyn Wilder played by Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose), whose job it is basically to make sure that Garland gets to the theatre on time to perform. We see a frail Judy drinking and taking pills, rarely eating or sleeping. Rosalyn works for theatre owner Bernard Delfont, played by Golden Globe nominee Michael Gambon (Path to War, Harry Potter films).
The film shows Garland performing, (Zellweger does the actual singing in the film) both at the top of her game, as well as appearing on stage in no condition to perform (due to pills and alcohol), and thus being booed off the stage, with objects being thrown at her. The film clearly shows that the pills that Garland was given as a young performer, led to a lifetime of substance abuse (pills and alcohol), and eventually to her death at an early age.
The film includes a fictionalized story of Garland having dinner and spending the evening with two gay fans – Dan, played by Andy Nyman, and Stan, played by Daniel Cerqueira – after one of her London performances.
Themes in the film include substance abuse, family, fading fame and motherhood.
Content concerns include substance abuse and some adult language, including the abuse of God’s and Jesus’s names.
Garland is a tragic figure, and Zellweger transforms herself to become the singer in an incredible performance. Judy is a sad film, a difficult film to watch, that also moves slowly. The drawing card is Zellweger’s outstanding performance as Judy Garland.
Tammy’s Oscar Scorecard – here’s a list of which Best Picture nominees to watch and which ones to pass on:
WATCH TAKE A PASS
FORD V FERRARI JOKER
THE IRISHMAN MARRIAGE STORY
LITTLE WOMEN ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD
JOJO RABBIT – we have not seen this film yet. It will be available to rent or stream on February 18