The Oscar Project Reviews
While Renée Zellweger's performance of the famed actress Judy Garland in her twilight is rightly praised, the film starts slow, ends slow, and doesn't pick up much steam in the middle.
Everyone loves The Wizard of Oz. At least I assume they do. While there are plenty of faults with the film, it's hard to argue the way it made use of color to help tell the story, at a time when color film was a new technology. That is not the story of this film however.
In Judy, we get to see the starlet at the end of her life and career as she struggles with the alcohol and substance abuse that plagued much of her life. I was impressed to see the filmmakers depict the dark underbelly of Hollywood when Garland was a child actor so we can understand the source of those addictions as well as the psychological abuse that pushed her to work longer and harder than any child ever should. It's hard to see MGM boss Louis B. Mayer ordering a young Garland around on the Oz set and without having to say anything, we understand that the film we love had plenty of hardship going on behind the scenes.
Much has been made about Zellweger's portrayal of Garland in this film, and I think she justly deserved the Oscar she received, along with the myriad other awards thrown her way by various critics and other organizations in the last year. Within the first five minutes of the film, I had already forgotten it was Zellweger on the screen, having completely bought into the fact that I was watching "Judy." I've never been one to dote on Garland, but went back and watched some footage of her around the time period covered in the film, and the portrayal is spot on, from the hair and clothing, to the mannerisms. I also took the opportunity to look away from the screen during one of the musical numbers (which Zellweger sang) and could hear the Garland in her voice. No on will ever match the original, but Zellweger did a passable imitation for the film.
Unfortunately, beyond Zellweger's performance, these is not a lot to praise i this film. The supporting roles of concert minder Rosalyn Wilder (Jessie Buckley), Garland's fifth husband Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock), third husband Sidney Luft (Rufus Sewell), and concert promoter Bernard Delfont (Michael Gambon) are all rather forgettable. Beyond that, the idea that Garland was performing again in London in order to bring in money so she could care for her young kids is lost once the action shifts to those concerts.
All in all, this film could have been 20-30 minutes shorter, and had more impact in the story it tried to tell. If you are a die-hard fan of Garland's, or the class mid-century movie business, I would recommend this film, but can recommend skipping it for the less die-hard among you.
5 out of 10