Judy Review - Phenomenal, Four Stars, Oscar Worthy

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Judy, from LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions, brings to the screen the legendary story of Judy Garland after she signs on for a series of sold out shows at London’s renowned Talk of the Town cabaret.

 

Directed by Rupert Goold, Judy stars Renee Zellweger, Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon, Royce Pierreson Darci Shaw, Andy Nyman, Daniel Cerqueira, Bella Ramsey, Lewin Lloyd, Tom Durant-Pritchard, John Dangliesh, Gemma-Leah-Devereux, Gus Barry, Matt Nalton, Bentley Kalu, Phil Dunster, and Richard Cordery as Louis B. Mayer.


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The film opens in 1939, on the set of The Wizard of Oz, pre-audition, as a young Judy Garland, played by Darci Shaw walks with Louis B. Mayer, played by an imposing Richard Cordery, as he explains the story and what the part of Dorothy is supposed to bring to the people adding “what you will bring to the people.”

He, of course, also explains she would be just like everyone else if it weren’t for her voice, that voice he says, and he ends the pre-audition chat with a promise, if she did everything he said, he would make her a star, if not she would sink into oblivion with only these few memories to keep her.

Of course, at 16 and the world at her feet, she chooses to follow her dream and as is fed throughout the film the audience is given a glimpse of both her rebellion and the lengths Louis B. Mayer went to keep her perfect in the eyes of the public.

Flash forward thirty years, its 1969, she has two young children, Lorna and Joey, played by Bella Ramsey and Lewin Lloyd, who perform from time to time with her. Returning to L.A. from a gig in New York, at 2:00AM, she arrives at her usual suite only to find it has been released. Her account so far in arrears the management had no choice.


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Essentially Judy didn’t either. The children needed security, so she swallowed her pride and a couple of pills from the pharmacy she traveled with, and arrived on the doorsteps of her former husband, Sidney Luft, played by Rufus Sewell.

The two are locked in a bitter divorce, she wanted the children with her, and he believed they needed home, school, friends, the same place every day and wanted to provide a stable secure home.

Even as he offered to let her stay the night, she refused and went to see her grown daughter, Liza Minnelli, played by Gemma-Leah-Devereux. A houseful of people was apparently just what Judy needed as she could always find one adorning fan and tonight was no different.

Mickey Deans, played by Finn Wittrock, a businessman/bartender from New York was on the west coast hoping to shake things up and ended up here, at Liza’s home, on one of the rare nights that her mother, showed up. The two spent what was left of the night drinking, talking and trying to figure out what could really happen if anything.

It wasn’t long after this that Judy explained her predicament to her manager who explained the London offer adding she was adored in London. Soon, she was in her suite, with her dedicated personal assistant, Roslyn, played by Jessie Buckley, who possibly didn’t know the level of commitment it would take to ensure Judy was on stage every night.

What follows is astounding! Judy is a perfectly crafted entertaining film.


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Even more than the story behind this tragically short life, the studio machine in the 1940s that shaped this woman, who as she often said, was born in a trunk backstage is also played out. Keeping her one size, feeding her speed to keep the weight down, sleeping pills to bring her down quick, more speed to keep her working 18-hour days, pills to curb the hunger, an equation that soon added alcohol to wash it all down.

The shows the many colors of Judy as she rebels and tries desperately to break free from the studio’s iron grasp and one also can understand why she married so many times. It is also clear she fears Mr. Mayer who rarely raises his voice. On occasion he gives her a verbal beat down, just so she remembers exactly where she would be.


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The cast is spectacular. The performances are sensitive, emotional, impassioned, and jump off the screen.

Of course, one can’t review the film without mentioning the singing. Never having heard Ms. Zellweger sing, to say it was surprising would be a bit of an understatement. She delivered on each note. Her Talk of the Town musical numbers were delivered with earthy and husky tones the performances emotive and affecting. Renee Zellweger disappeared and what I have seen of Ms. Garland appeared. It was a magnificent.

Judy is brilliantly made, and Renee Zellweger gives a show stopping performance!

Judy opens Friday, September 27, 2019. See this film.

 

Photo credit: David Hindley Courtesy of LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions

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