A Star Is Forlorn
Judy, starring Renée Zellweger as icon Judy Garland, would be a perfect movie release for 2059. By then, Judy’s children and adoring fans like me would no longer be around to watch the suffering of our dear Judy on screen. This has nothing to do with the quality of the film. It’s simply the humane thing to do. Because Judy Garland’s talent and artistry have meant so much to me during most of my life, I felt sheer torture while watching this downer biopic. Although Zellweger delivers a first-rate performance, she’s no Judy Garland. And, as my colleague James Colt Harrison says, “But then, who is?”
My sister and daughter, who attended the screening with me, really enjoyed the movie. In fact, my daughter tried to calm me down by saying, “You wanted a happy musical about Judy Garland with Judy herself in the starring role!” And my sister chimed in with, “She was a mess in her private life.” Both of them might be right.
But I wanted more scenes showing Judy at her best, not so many emphasizing her weaknesses that started when studio officials gave her pills to keep her thin and perky. (Brief flashbacks deal with this sad state of affairs.) But to be fair, Zellweger’s Judy points out, “I’m JUDY GARLAND for only one hour a day.”
The movie follows Judy during the last year of her life while she’s in London to perform concerts at The Talk of the Town venue. She needs money so she can keep her children with her (all except Liza, who is already getting a start in showbiz). Judy’s need for pills and booze has taken its toll on her by this time. She’s late for shows, uncooperative, and sometimes even insults members of the audience.
During this period, Judy meets her last husband, Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock), who makes her happy at first but disappoints her later. And, sadly, her vocal skill has deteriorated. Zellweger masters Garland’s facial moves and body language, but her vocals don’t sound like Judy to me. However, I love the way she belts out “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “The Trolley Song.”
Finally, it’s the last scene of the movie -- and an unusual rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” -- that probably cinches an Oscar for Zellweger, which seems ironic when the real Judy Garland failed to win an Oscar for her amazing performance in A Star Is Born.
Judy, Judy! We still love you.
Your talent always seems brand new.
Now comes a movie about your life
concerning your last year of strife.
No matter what the critics say,
your shining star will ever stay.
Singing, dancing and acting too –
no one performs them all like you!
(Released by Roadside Attractions/ BBC Films and rated “PG-13” for substance abuse, thematic content, some strong language, and smoking.)
For more information about Judy, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.