Having only the clear memory of the young Dorothy of countless viewings of The Wizard of Oz and fuzzy recollections of the aging actress that players her that showed up on my TV in black-and-white in various programs my parents watched during my youth to go on, I cannot say that Renee Zellweger’s portrayal of Judy Garland in Judy is spot-on.
I will claim with authority, however, that Zellweger surely has channeled a personality that keeps your eyes squarely on the screen the whole 117 minutes of this biopic directed by Rupert Goold from a screenplay by Tom Edge adapted from Peter Quilter’s play Over the Rainbow. She’s at turns bitter, sweet, horrifying, magnificent, genuine. And I sure can imagine that with the life she led as depicted by this telling of her story, Judy Garland indeed turned out something like this.
Zellweger is magnificent.
The story centers around Garland’s trip to London for a series of shows in 1968. The appearance is a savior of sorts; her U.S. career has turned into a horrible drive to places that ask her to include her son and daughter on stage and hand her over a was of cash far smaller than what she’d want or expect. In fact, we discover, she’s got trouble paying important financial tabs and keeping any sort of emotional balance with her ex husband.
The fans of London, though, adore her.
Her mind-set, however, is way out of whack nonetheless.
The visit to Judy’s world darts between the young-actress formative studio treatment that undoubtedly went such a long way to making her what she became in so many ways and the rollercoaster ride her life has become.
She treats people badly and then she doesn’t. They treat her with adoration and then they don’t.
It’s a sad, sad tale, lovely at the top and full of despair at the bottom.
Oh, what was. Oh, what could have been. Oh, what a triumph for Zellweger.
Central New Yorkers can view Judy free as part of the Liverpool Public Library’s Movie Matinee series, at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 24 and 2:30 p.m. Friday, March 27, in the Carman Community Room.