Renée Zellweger, Judy Garland, controlled and created (and fed drugs) by Hollywood's studio system


AIR the new biopic Judy stars Renee Zellweger as the singer and Hollywood star Judy Garland during the final months of her life Judy Garland was forty seven when she died in London in nineteen sixty nine I film critic Justin Chang has this review Academy Awards voters can rarely resist a celebrity impersonation judging by some of the star turns that have won Oscars in recent years these are just performances their jaw dropping feats of mimicry Gary Oldman is Winston Churchill rami Malek is Freddie Mercury the new film Judy is being sold along similar lines Renee Zellweger is Judy Garland to judge by the breathless hype that has greeted the movie so far the approach seems to be paying off what makes Judy unusually fascinating for an otherwise standard celebrity biopic is that so worker isn't Judy Garland her transformation is impressive but hardly definitive even with the help of a dark wig and skillful makeup and prosthetics she doesn't exactly disappear into the role of the beloved singer and actress who captivated the public in movies like the wizard of oz and meet me in St Louis but even if you don't always believe you're in the presence of garland Zellweger nearly makes up in raw emotional commitment what she lacks in verisimilitude her intensely felt go for broke performance sometimes runs the risk of overwhelming this sturdy screen adaptation of Peter quilters stage play end of the rainbow. Judy begins with one of several flashbacks to the teenage garland on the set of the wizard of oz showing us how the industry created and destroyed her in the same breath her body an image or ruthlessly controlled by the powerful MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer who puts on a strict diet and gives her barbiturates amphetamines setting in motion the substance abuse problem that she will struggle with for the rest of her life but most of the movie is set in nineteen sixty nine long after her Hollywood heyday and mere months before her death at the age of forty seven Judy is now broke and virtually homeless dragging herself from one crummy Ellie club performance to another we meet her eldest child Liza Minnelli at a house party and also Judy's third husband Sydney loft who takes custody of their two young children well she reluctantly books a gig at the talk of the town night club in London although she's devastated at being separated from her kids Judy has little choice but to work overseas were her fans can still be counted on to turn out in full force. in London Judy's depression and insomnia quickly take over she pops pills skips rehearsals and nearly misses opening night but when she stumbles into the spotlight and starts crooning by myself and the trolley song her confidence come surging back and she enjoys having an appreciative crowd again. one night after a show Judy feeling lonely the friends an adoring couples Stan and Dan and joins them for a late dinner at their apartment in a touching scene damn played by Andy Nyman reminds Judy how much she means to her many gay fans sweet this you can't seem. sometimes I spy to get out there.

Coming up next