Much like any regular human being in the work force, Judy Garland ran a long race. The same goes for you: the steps you take today determine your tomorrow; the best-case scenario is that you will leave the world a better place than you found it. Though instead of setting a brighter tomorrow, Judy churns out safe, shallow Oscar-bait hypocritically bashing the celebrity lifestyle.
Now of course, the first thing potential audiences want to hear is: Is Renée Zellweger walking up Oscar Way on February 2020? Now, I at first felt dubious about Zellweger, she does not resemble Garland’s appearance and her voice sounds nowhere near that mellow, iconic voice. But overall, here’s the answer: Yes! She really means what she sings. Even if she wasn’t the absolute best choice for the part, she does everything she can to make her portrayal of Garland a committed one. There were even some angles on her face that made me gasp mentally, “Oh my, it’s Judy!”
Okay, now with that out of the way, on to more difficult matters. You are first introduced to her adult self by seeing her normal identity long before she sings—that being a single mother who is forced to leave her family with an abrasive but caring man. She is an enlightening spirit despite her despicability, as she calls passerby, “Darling,” which is of course a… well… darling personality quirk! But going deeper into this survey of the near-end of her existence, those who surround Judy Garland, including her boyfriend-soon-husband, have no personal goals mentioned besides lifing her up higher as “America’s sweetheart” above the car-ingested world.
Instead of feeling optimistic about civilization, you turn upset by how these Hollywood producers abuse her in her teen years, which include guilt-talking her into fame and overworking her until she jumps into a swimming pool on set to delay the shoot. Heck, hints of Weinstein even hide themselves inside a male producer who makes her famous! Although these flashbacks’ ordering seems random, one flashback intrudes the middle of a present-day scene, which breaks the rhythm. Thus, instead of giving answers about where your life should go, you feel desperate while wondering whether this movie wants to say fame is worth it or not.
In that confusion, you see Judy blame everyone around her for her trouble, behaving far worse than she says those around her are. It’s hard to root for her right away, even when she wanders homeless with her two kids, the sheer unlikability of Judy in this screenplay is enough for you to start wishing her toward her grave. The other females are difficult to root for in different ways, as they’re all too passive to meet your expectations, mostly Judy’s underwhelming and ultimately forgettable ginger manager. But the actor playing her lover, Finn Wittrock, still gives a great supporting performance to contrast the demons of her past, giving what feels like the passion of the Christ from his mere screen presence. He along with most of the other harsh male actors could summon a plague of frogs with the way they exploit the lack of content they’re given.
There are other elements that make you forget how much the movie painfully reveals what studios did (do) to children. One of those is the razzle-dazzle of fireworks that enlighten spectators as if finally finding their purpose. Although that’s just one brief scene, delightful beauty magazine hues construct the entirety of Judy’s career. Designed by Harry Potter’s Jany Temime, she uses damp, cold colors to shine Judy brighter than the surrounding pastel blues and pinks. You see Judy Garland wear such diverse period-accurate fashions, each reflecting the specific milestones of her health journey; I sure hope Temime can snag an Oscar nomination for her work!
What makes the charming designs much more haunting though is that director Rupert Goold decides against the happy biopic approach (a decision made for the better) and doesn’t shy away from the real Judy Garland; you see how she hurts her own body from the inside out. She starts off excited when on stage in front of hundreds, then upon her stress, she insults the crowd, then flat-out faints on stage. It’s particularly tragic to watch because nobody thinks she is a person, not even you ever feel “close” to her either.
It’s all well-intentioned, but its shallow tread through the pond of what Judy Garland’s life meant doesn’t quite say what it wants to say about living for the present. There will surely still be just as many hopeless people out there preferring to leave earth, which I bet Judy intended to change. Nope, Goold’s motion picture will be a forgotten non-achievement that doesn’t fully succeed in reminding people of their purpose apart from worshiping whoever is already living a life of fame.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
“JUDY (2019).” History vs. Hollywood. CTF Media. Web. <http://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/judy/>.
Judy. Powster. Web. <https://www.judythefilm.com/>.
Kinane, Ruth. “Renée Zellweger takes the stage as Judy Garland in new Judy trailer.” Digital image. Entertainment Weekly. Meredith Corporation, 8 Jul 2019. Web. <https://ew.com/movies/2019/07/08/renee-zellweger-judy-trailer/>.