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Film Review


Directed by Rupert Goold
From: Roadside Attractions
Released: 09.27.19
Review by Julian Lytle | September 27, 2019 at 10:30 AM

Basically: Renée Zellweger becomes a moving memory of Judy Garland. 

I’ll be honest with you: I’m not the biggest Judy Garland stan. What I know about her comes from watching The Wizard of Oz (like most people). In that, you can see why she was the most captivating young actress of her time. This film’s story though is about the end of her time. The down parts of her performing life. Renée Zellweger plays the titular Judy Garland in the year of 1969, as her celebrity has tarnished from bad press. Having a hard time with money and her family life, she goes to London to perform in a series of shows to get her life back on track. 

Photo by David Hindley - © LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions

This film is focused on Judy and Zellweger’s performance, that’s the selling point and it’s rightfully deserved. Zellweger disappears into the role and becomes a moving memory of an older Garland on the screen. The mannerisms and ticks are all there, you’re amazed by just how good she is and yet you’re never taken out of the story. Zellweger gets you into the core of this story of what’s making Judy tick. I don’t know if it’s “true” on every point but the emotions are authentic. 

The director Rupert Goold does a fantastic job of framing everything with the help of his team of filmmakers. The use of lighting stands out here as it lives up to the phrase: Every frame a painting. There is a great use of close-ups and scenes of Judy alone with her regrets and past. The film also uses flashbacks at points to explain
her vices. 

The other standout sections of the film are the performances pieces, these are the ones that scream of old Hollywood spectacle as we get to see Zellweger sing and interact with the crowd and the band. Those are the parts that will make her performance stick in your mind.

Photo by David Hindley - © LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions

There are some storytelling tropes in this that might be expected. Jessie Buckley plays Rosalyn Wilder who’s Judy’s handler, so you end up thinking this is going to be some movie where the young beautiful woman has this mother and daughter relationship, where they both get something out of it to make them better humans. Thankfully the film skates past that completely, since Garland has a tragic ending. The film doesn’t end that way but it can’t be forgotten..

Zellweger is great in her singing and the soundtrack will do well, I’ll be honest I forgot she can sing since it’s been so long since Chicago. Hearing her as Judy feels like rediscovering an actor. This is a review heavily about Zellweger, but the studio is selling the film on her and she steps up to the plate and knocks it out of the park.

In the End: Judy is probably the first real film of 2019 that screams Oscar and it’s all Renée Zellweger. This is one of the must-see performances of the year period.

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