Four years ago in late May my partner and I had to be in the New York Metropolitan area for a few events, and we took two extra days to spend in the city. While there, we went to see the Broadway show “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime.” When we left the show, Oscar asked me what I thought of the play and I said that the lead actor (Alex Sharp) will definitely be winning the Tony (Tony Awards were five days later), and I was pretty sure the show would win for best play. When he asked how I knew this since I hadn’t seen any of the other actors that were nominated. My response was although I have not seen the shows this year, I had seen more than enough in my lifetime to know that no actor could have been better than Alex. This is the same way I feel about Renee Zellweger in her leading role as Judy Garland in the movie Judy. In addition to the fact that she looks uncannily like Judy Garland, she must have done a tremendous amount of research as her mannerisms are so on point it is scary.
What really got me about Renee’s performance is not the times she is portraying Judy being manic, but rather the times she is silent, and with just one look (Sunset Boulevard fans will love this) took me in, and made my spine tingle. Her eyes are so expressive, it’s unreal. Before this movie I wasn’t a big Renee Zellweger fan, but that has changed!
In addition, one of my favorites, Finn Wittrock, has a supporting role, and is also fabulous. I became a fan of Finn when he played Dandy in the 4th season of American Horror Stories – Freak Show.
The film starts out with Judy being young and on the set of The Wizard of Oz, and after quickly showing us how she was mentally abused by the film studio, which clearly set the town for the rest of her life, we fast forward to 1968 where Judy is homeless and the only way for her to make enough money to support her 2 younger children (Liza was already an adult) is to take a gig in Swinging London to perform in a sell-out run at The Talk of the Town. It is 30 years since she shot to global stardom in The Wizard Of Oz, but if her voice has weakened, its dramatic intensity has only grown.
As she prepares for the show, battles with management, charms musicians, and reminisces with friends and adoring fans, her wit and warmth shine through. Even her dreams of romance seem undimmed as she embarks on a courtship with Mickey Deans (Finn), her soon-to-be fifth husband.
One of the highlights of the movie for me was Judy’s kindness and compassion to two gay guys who were waiting for her at the stage door. It was if she became friends instantly with her two adoring fans.
And yet Judy is fragile. After working for 45 of her 47 years, she is exhausted; haunted by memories of a childhood lost to Hollywood; and gripped by a desire to be back home with her kids.
Featuring some of her best-known songs, including the timeless classic “Over the Rainbow,” “Judy” celebrates the voice, the capacity for love and the sheer pizzazz of “the world’s greatest entertainer.”
For anyone who loves good story telling and/or phenomenal acting this is a must see movie. As a matter of fact, I am definitely going to see it a second time. I am also going to predict right here that Miss Zellweger will be walking away with her second Oscar!