Showcasing the actress and singer in the last months of her life, “Judy” gives the audience a glimpse of her life both as a young teenager in the height of her fame and years later, in the waning stages of her career. A touching biopic that shows the loneliness and sadness of fame, it is nothing short of captivating. Though “Judy” does tend toward focusing on the actress’s lows much more than her highs, it is nothing short of a career defining performance for Renee Zellweger, who embodies Judy Garland — her mannerisms, vocal cadences and facial expressions — entirely.
Thirty years after her iconic performance of Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” actress and singer Judy Garland (Renee Zellweger, proving herself a very capable actor) is now struggling to find enough money to support her and her children. Reluctantly agreeing to go to London for a string of nightclub shows, she hopes that she can earn enough money to be able to return to America and raise her children. Reminiscing on her youth and the childhood that was stolen from her, during her stay she finds friends, fans and a new boyfriend. However, despite all the crowds watching her sing every night, she still finds herself lonely, often turning to self-destructive habits and substance addiction to cope.
Renee Zellweger’s beautiful portrayal of the starlet rises above the film, showing Judy Garland as more than Hollywood royalty or a depressed has-been celebrity desperately grasping for a comeback. Truly showing off her skill, Renee truly steals every scene, making her Academy Award win for the film well deserved. Showcasing Judy Garland’s emotional journey throughout her sold-out London performances as she recalls the abuse suffered at the hands of her parents and industry executives and how it affected her being years down the line. However, the film fails to truly delve deep into the root of how that trauma affected her.
While as a biopic the script itself may not stand out, the story, visuals, and award-winning performance give the film a distinctive quality. However, one of the most distinctive features of “Judy” is the moments when it observes the influence she had on those beyond her immediate circle. While it pulls back the curtain on her private life, it also reveals the impact her Hollywood persona had on her adoring fans. Although those moments are brief and serve largely to move the film from point A to point B, it is an incredibly touching moment and highlights her kindness and want to do and be good for herself and those around her — something which would have served the film well had more focus been put on it. Nonetheless, the film is still a sentimental tribute to the late actress and Renee Zellweger’s sentimental portrayal of Judy Garland is insightful and honest.
Rose Dunton, originally of Nampa, has been living in Pocatello for the past five years. Proficient in Japanese, she is an avid film buff.