The most ironic thing I thought about while watching JUDY is that with the current state of our “cancel culture,” why are people still holding the film The Wizard Of Oz up so high on a fucking pedestal? Shit, if more people saw this movie, and the horrific way Judy Garland was treated during it, I have a feeling more people would be up in arms about this film being a beloved classic. But anyway, I’m not part of that cancel culture and I still love that movie, but I digress. We all know that Judy Garland is one of the very sad victims of Hollywood. Fame killed her, there is no question. This new movie about her, just stacks that evidence higher and higher, and everything about her life becomes sadder and sadder. I’m totally recommending this movie, don’t get me wrong, but once I left the theater, I was very, very depressed thinking about her life and connecting all of her tragic threads. The number one reason to watch this movie, is that you are hopefully watching what will be the Oscar winning performance of 2019 by Renee Zellweger. She is absolutely fucking unbelievable in this movie. Might as well send it to her in advance in the mail.
So much so, that at points throughout the film, I thought I was watching a documentary on Judy Garland. Zellweger’s performance isn’t just a mere impression or basic imitation of Garland. Zellweger BECOMES Garland. Like from second one, I didn’t see Zellweger there at all. It was absolutely fucking uncanny and just became more so as the film went on, all leading to one of the most tear inducing finales I’ve witnessed in quite some time. I think what I appreciated most about this film is that while it is sort of a biopic, it really isn’t. The whole thing takes place within 5 weeks of her life (about six months before she dies), as she flies to London to do a five week stint in this concernt hall so that she can get a lot of money in order to be able to retain custody and take great care of her two kids (not Liza Minelli, as she was already an adult at this time). See, London, at that time, still saw her as sort of an idol, more than America did for sure. Within these five weeks we get a couple of flashback to win Dorothy was much younger, between takes shooting The Wizard of Oz.
I was appalled with how Garland was treated during Oz. They would hardly let her eat, wouldn’t let her be that social, wouldn’t let her have any fun, she couldn’t get any sleep and it even seems like she might’ve even been sexually harassed (that part in the film is a little vague but I think I got the picture). All of that was shown to have had a nasty effect on her life to the point it could be argued that she never really had one. The film does any excellent job of cause and effect. All the little tidbits of shit she had to go through when she was younger, they come out bright as day in Zellweger’s performance. Her personal struggles and inner mentality is very, very tragic, she didn’t deserve any of it one bit. She was a loving individual in real life, her only fault may be that she loved a little bit too much. There is this one scene near the end where Garland is backstage looking at the giant crowd before her, and with her expression, you can tell that she knows her career will ultimately kill her, but she can’t help but bring millions of smiles to her endearing fans.
This film is filled a bunch of little scenes that made the film a little special. My favorite though would have to be her spontaneous late night dinner and social outing with this male gay couple. It showed how much she was idolized yet still tried desperately relate to more common folk so she could feel like she had a normal life. The film focuses just the right amount on her actually performing some of those stints at the concern hall in London, which thankfully wasn’t too much. But when it did, it had a huge impact. Some of the times Renee Zellweger got to show off her vocal chops (again, amazing), and then some of the times she was so inebriated that she couldn’t even perform and got booed at and some stuff was even thrown at her. We also get to see the origin of her last marriage to her last husband, and her dealing with custody (sort of) of her two youngest kids by her previous husband. All of it shows a tragic life that was always taken for granted and never given a second thought.
I could talk about the other acting in the film, but why bother, as the only other recognizable face is Michael Gambon (Dumbledore in most of the Harry Potter films) and he barely has any lines as the owner of the London Concert Hall that Judy is performing at. This is Renee Zellweger’s show and she completely fucking nails every single frame. The direction is adequate by Rupert Goold, but I have to admit I have never seen any of his work to compare it to. I can agree that he must be a decent actor’s director, as he magnifies Zellweger’s already electric performance on the screen. The film is based off play I have not seen called “End of the Rainbow.” The only thing I’ll say about it is that should’ve been the title to this movie, as I found this just being called “Judy” kind of lazy and generic. I did really enjoy this movie, but I found it a little too depressing to consider it for my top twenty of the year. I know, what am I thinking, right? But I would watch this movie a time or two again, because Renee Zellweger’s performance is just that damn good. It made that gloomy rainbow shine.