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Bollywood Movie Reviews

Judy Movie Review: A Garland For Rene Zellweger




Starring Rene Zellweger, Jessie  Buckley,

Directed  by  Rupert Goold

Rating: *** ½ (3 and a half stars)

Judy Garland lives again. The  legendary  live performer and screen  bombshell, a beguiling  blend  of  Marilyn Monroe and Shirley Temple , died  at her prime in her 40s when the world was at her feet.

The film ,scripted with the  coiling-uncoiling   immediacy  of  a story that was waiting to be  told, captures the final years  of  Ms Garland’s astounding  life, as she sunk into the  sinister solace  of  alcohol and drugs, killing her career  and self in one  bold stroke.

Straightaway, Judy is  a film to  cherish and  hold close to your heart. It shows the self-destructive  streak in a star and the  fading away  from stardom , with such non-judgemental eyes that we never feel  the terrible burden of  self-abuse   that the protagonist brings to bear on her life and her screen story.

Then there is Rene Zellweger playing…no, sorry reliving Ms Garland’s closing years with a vivacious  vividity. The actress transforms into  the  crumbling legend in  front of our eyes. Ms Zellweger has performed  Judy Garland’s songs ; she is  just spellbinding on stage  as she stumbles in an alcoholic stupor  crooning ‘Over The Rainbow’.

 I cannot say I am  as happy with the  relationships that  Garland is shown to cultivate and destroy, as I am with the central performance. The husband(Rufus Sewell) and  lover(Finn Wittrock) barely register as individuals .They are  imagined from  the  outside as invasive  entities  in  Garland’s life , destroying her precarious mental equilibrium. They aren’t cads. Just  what…well…men are  supposed to be when dating a woman too famous to be  a lover.

There is more flesh than flash in Judy Garland’s relationship that grows  with a  young poised  sensible  woman in London Rosalyn Wilder(played with marvellous  gravitas  by Jessie Buckley). Rosalyn is basically hired to ensure that Judy gets on stage  during her long stint in London. Some kind  of  an empathy  grows  between the two women.

In  one of  the film’s  best sequences Rosalyn orders a big yummy creamy cake for Judy over dinner.Cake,  you see, was forbidden to Judy ever since she became a  star  at 14, even on  her birthday. Now that cake staring temptingly at Judy Garland becomes a symbol  of everything that stardom denies to the star.

There are  many such moments in the film where I found myself looking at the life of  the  fascinating American  icon  who lived  to be famous and died to be be with her children(Oscar winning Liza Minelli  was  Ms Garland’s daughter). Mention must made  of newcomer Darci Shaw who plays the young Judy facing constant  borderline abuse from legendary producer Louis B Mayer.

Judy is  a work of great love  and abject  loneliness. It portrays  the star as  a shadow dancer in  her own narrative, never  knowing which way to go when the rain sets in. It could have been a heartbreaking experience. But  the film  keeps a tight leash on the emotions. Which is  more than can be said about the legend that  it recreates in such glorious  colours.

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