Judy (2019)

judy poster 2019 movie renee zellweger
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 7/10

Good performance by Zellweger

Feels like it misses some opportunities

Movie Info

Movie Name: Judy

Studio:  Pathé

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s):  August 30, 2019 (Telluride Film Festival)/September 27, 2019 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

judy garland louis b mayer richard cordery darci shaw

Poor girl was doomed before she even began…

It is the end of the rainbow for Judy Garland (Renée Zellweger).  Her career is virtually gone, she has no money, and she is battling her fourth husband Sidney Luft (Rufus Sewell) for custody of her two children.  When she is forced to take an offer to headline “Talk of the Town” in London, Judy finds her past and present colliding as she tries to battle the demons that are destroying her.

Directed by Rupert Goold, Judy is a biopic of Judy Garland (June 10, 1922-June 22, 1969) and focusing on the last performances of her life.  The film adapts the 2005 Peter Quilter musical play End of the Rainbow and was met with positive to mixed reviews.  The film an Academy Award for Best Actress (Zellweger) and a nomination for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Other than some basics, I honestly don’t know a lot about Garland.  As a kid, The Wizard of Oz was a special treat when it aired (and became less special but more available when video popped up).  Her performance in Meet Me in St. Louis is less iconic, but probably more complex and better.  I of course saw pictures of her later appearances and singing growing up, but other than knowing her life was troubled, I didn’t know much.

judy rene zellweger drinking

Judy put them down….

Judy (like most biopics) isn’t 100% accurate, but it does get a lot right from what is told about Garland.  Born Frances Ethel Gumm, Garland was used and abused by the studio and had a creepy relationship with Louis B. Mayer (played by Richard Cordery) which may or may not have been sexually-abusive (there are rumors).  This in addition to the strict rules of the studio system warped Garland into someone who seemed uncomfortable in her own skin unless she was performing.  It is sad and tragic, but it is also typical of stories from this period.  The movie was smart to be a tight story of Garland instead of a life story, but it still feels like ever self-destructive celebrity-artist story you’ve heard.

Renée Zellweger is good as Garland, but received some criticism that she was just copying Garland instead of giving her depth.  I don’t know that this is valid since Garland seemed like a copy and parody of herself in many ways.  It is hard to say what she was like behind closed doors, but Zellweger seems to nail the performer Garland.

judy garland talk of the town performance renee zellweger

Judy says goodbye

The movie looks ok.  I wanted a bit more from the visuals and the swinging London which the movie dips its toe into instead of diving into.  Garland I think would have been a massive public hit in London and I bet there was a lot of celebrity following even back then.  This probably would have been both energizing and destructive for her and the film feels like it could have used the settings better.

Judy isn’t a great film, but it has a great performance in it.  I like seeing Zellweger back, and I’m always glad for actresses (who generally face a bigger uphill battle as they age) when they find a vehicle that matches them.  I wish I liked the movie a bit more and though I like the film’s format, I wish that the story had been tweaked and solidified more to give Zellweger more meat to work with.

Related Links:

The 92nd Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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