Judy Movie Review
Judy Garland had a miserable life, so Rupert Goold has made a miserable film for us to sit through. “Miserable,” truly, is inaccurate—Judy, which stars Renée Zellweger as a late-career version of the singer/actress, isn’t miserable as much as it is bland and sort of boring.
To fixate on this time period of Garland’s life—after her body, mind and soul have been ravaged by drugs, alcohol, and the men who made her a star—was the right move, but the production itself is a drag, an aimless slog that drifts from one disaster moment to the next, only without the fortitude or commitment to make any of it particularly gripping.
Frankly, the flashbacks to Garland’s youth are much more interesting (and disturbing) than Garland’s later years; given the end result, the filmmakers likely would have been more adept at showcasing how she turned out the way she did rather than show us what became of her.
Zellweger has received rave reviews for her “comeback” turn as the tragic character; she’s good, having long since abandoned her button cute persona for something more fitting of a middle aged actress. But it’s hard to tell where Zellweger’s own mannerisms end and her acting begins; her scrunched lips and tick-induced stare seem to showcase how far Ms. Garland has fallen, but they could also be distracting offshoots of Zellweger herself.
She’s good, but talk of “best performance of the year” is overblown.
In the right hands, the same story could have been a superbly fascinating character study, a riveting and unsettling examination of how a woman who seemingly had everything—looks, talent, unlimited potential—could fall so far, but Judy is instead a by-the-numbers late-age biopic of sorts, a movie that wants to show what Garland’s life was like without attempting to make us feel it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.