Judy is a well made biopic that should give Renee Zellweger a yellow brick road straight to the Academy Awards.
In 1969, Judy Garland (Renee Zellweger) is struggling to make ends meet while she tries to raise her two youngest children. Though her star power is undeniable, she cannot seem to attract the crowds or book the shows like she used to. Desperate for anyway to support her family, Judy agrees to go to London and perform in a show that is predicted to sell out.
On the opening night of her new London venture, Judy is so nervous and incoherent from pills and alcohol that she doesn't seem fit to perform, but the moment she takes the stage, the star in her takes over and she wows the crowd. At first, it seems as if her stay in England will prove highly successful, but a lifetime of substance abuse and bad memories appear to be a hurdle she may not be able to overcome.
When I first saw the trailers for Judy, I wasn't exactly overwhelmed with the urge to go out and see it, but I assumed I would get around to watching it eventually. I actually surprised myself with the fact that I wasn't initially overly excited about seeing the movie, because films based around the time of classic Hollywood is usually something I am over the moon about, but at the time, I feared Judy was doomed to be just another biopic that followed the same patterns as all the rest. Though it does on occasion mimic the ideas and concepts of past films of its kind, Judy perseveres to be a strong and emotional film about one of cinema's most greatest treasures and all that she had to go through in her short and tortured life.
Initially, what semi turned me away from being excited about Judy was the casting of Renee Zellweger as Judy Garland. I have nothing against Zellweger and I think she's a very talented actress and singer, but I just didn't think she looked very much like Garland. Upon seeing the film in its entirety, my opinion on that no longer holds true whatsoever. As soon as Zellweger began to speak, there was a change in her eyes, one that showed the years of putting on a show for the cameras and studios and all the hidden anguish Judy Garland had to endure, and it seemed to literally turn her into the screen legend, especially if the shot was angled towards her left profile. The concept of her looking most like her character from the left must have been something the filmmakers noticed very early on, because it appeared that in the most crucial moments of the film, where it was vitally important that Renee Zellweger not just resemble Judy, but be transformed into her, she would only be shot from the left side. It was in those moments where I had to keep reminding myself that Zellweger was not in fact Judy Garland, because the resemblance appeared to be so uncanny.
When it comes to biopics, there's always fiction that is weaved into the facts the story is trying to tell, and whether or not Judy was more fabrication than reality, I could not tell you, but what I can say is if the majority of story they portrayed is true, it definitely has taken some of the sparkle away from Tinseltown. I love the world of classic film, but in the many books I've read and the documentaries I've watched, I know that there were some pretty horrendous acts that occurred when the cameras stopped rolling. Judy shines a huge spotlight on some of those travesties, and paints a vividly clear picture as to why Judy Garland struggled so much in her later years with pills and alcohol. In doing so, it makes the audience feel an immense amount of sympathy towards Garland. I found myself unexpectedly a little teary eyed as I sat in my seat at the theater, watching her desperately try to make a contented life out of the tremendous hardships she faced as a young girl.
Judy does a wonderful job at paying tribute to Garland. Even though I am quite sure one of the major scenes, dedicated to showing Judy the love and honor she deserves, is all made up, I find I don't fully care, because it brings some well earned joy and respect to the troubled star's life and legacy.