- Director: Rupert Goold
- Writer: Tom Edge; Peter Quilter
- Producer: David Livingstone; Jim Spencer
Love Judy Garland...not too keen on this!
Why!?! Because...it's drug-addled misery, part-fiction and the songs aren't Judy!
The 'fiction' comes in the form of two gay superfans...who meet a lonesome Judy [as if] outside the theatre and take her back to their flat for an omelette. It's a cute scene...but, alas, untrue. Now, if the writer and director had knocked their heads together they might have come up with why Ms Garland was/is and will always be so popular with the gay community...rather than just create this cute drivel. Two of her five husbands were gay and Liza's [first] husband had an affair with her mother's fourth! This [ridiculous] comedy belies the tragedy that was Ms Garland's life.
Judy is all about that tragedy. Here, she is a hard-drinking, pill-popping skeleton of a woman...definitely high-maintenance and hard-work! It's not exactly a complimentary portrayal nor is it a complex one...that's the problem. For example, Louis B. Mayer is portrayed more as passive-aggressive, emotional blackmailer than the sexual predator he was! In Ms Garland's autobiography, she states he molested her...that, along with the prescribed pills and being incessantly over-worked...no wonder she was screwed up. Her story demanded a complex script, rather than giving the essence of Judy, this film should attempted to uncover her soul. Not as difficult as it sounds, she sang wearing her heart on her sleeve...the biggest mistake that this film made...not using her vocal. We did not hear her hurt, her pain, her anger and rage...that's why gay men [of a certain age] adore her. She vocalised our hurt, our pain, our anger and rage...and, sometimes, our joy.
Renée Zellweger delivers a decent enough performance...until she sings! Obviously miming, lip-synching...call it what you will, it just looks fake...sin alma.
Is it a bad film? No. It's just not as complex as it should have been. To be truthful, it does veer towards the tabloid way of telling a story...c'mon, there was much, much more to Judy Garland than her being broke, bad behaviour, booze and barbiturates. She had something unmistakable and unique: Her voice. Without it, she would have remained - in anonymity - plain old Frances Ethel Gumm. Judy is a mere impression of the great woman...minus the voice!
If it's a celebration of Ms Garland that you're looking for...you will have to look elsewhere.
Legendary performer arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts.