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Film review: ‘Judy’ – Renee Zellweger tipped for Oscar for Judy Garland portrayal

Judy Garland is played by Renee Zellweger in 'Judy'.

Film review: ‘Judy’ – Renee Zellweger tipped for Oscar for Judy Garland portrayal

Review: Judy is worth seeing if only to understand the extreme highs and tragic lows of showbusiness.

Film review: ‘Judy’ – Renee Zellweger tipped for Oscar for Judy Garland portrayal

Judy Garland died in self-imposed exile in London in 1969. She was 47, on her fifth husband, and trying to resurrect her singing career living on a different continent from her young children in order to earn a living.

She had survived several suicide attempts and nervous breakdowns and was suffering from hepatitis, pill addiction and kidney problems. Her death was judged an accidental pill overdose.

Judy, starring Renee Zellweger as Garland, portrays what was to be her final attempt to hold onto her career through a series of concerts in London in 1969.

Interspersed with that are portraits of Judy as a child actor, trying and failing to be a normal teenager while contracted to MGM and having to work up to 18 hours a day, subjected to a severe diet and forced drug regimen to keep her in shape and able to work.

Renee Zellweger has received a lot of critical acclaim and she is tipped for an Oscar nomination for her portrayal, if not a win.

The film is a credible attempt to recreate London of the swinging ’60s and is a star vehicle for Zellweger.

She spent a year preparing for the role and does her own singing.

As a result, she is competent in the role but the film ultimately fails to really lift off and become truly immersive by capturing the spirit of Garland.

Admittedly this is no easy task, particularly when Zellweger bears little physical resemblance to Garland and the latter possessed a voice considered one of the most iconic of her day.

The film is engaging enough and particularly poignant when it depicts the young Judy, who was undoubtedly denied a proper childhood and seemed to spend her adult life looking for the love she never received when younger.

In Australia this week to launch the film, Zellweger said she worked with a dialogue coach every night during filming and listened to the star’s singing constantly on headphones. “The essence of Judy was very much alive on that set,” she said. 

Garland’s story – despite her career highs such as The Wizard of Oz and her many films with Mickey Rooney – was ultimately a tragic one.

Judy is worth seeing if only to understand the extreme highs and lows of show business and how challenging it can be for many in that field to manage such an existence.

A recent ABC documentary, The Show Must Go On explored this very theme excellently, interviewing many local performers about the pitfalls and mental health challenges of such a feast-or-famine lifestyle. 

Watched in tandem with Judy, the two films give an enlightening portrayal of a ruthless business.

Judy opens in Australia on 10 October, and in New Zealand on 17 October.

Read more: Renee Zellweger tells MiNDFOOD of her ‘jubilation’ of portraying Judy Garland

 

 

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