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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz


Gentle & Caring

Judy featuring Renee Zellweger is one of those rare films where the great performance and the film overall are the exact same thing. Films like Judy need just one person to effortlessly carry it through, without making it look too hard or like a chore. I’ll admit, I never would have predicted Renee Zellweger would be the one to do this but as talent would have it, she is indeed the chosen one.

In 1969, Judy Garland (Renee Zellweger) arrived in London for a five-week run of sell-out concerts. Throughout her stay, she finds herself confronted by the pressures of perfection, memories from her past and her lack of ability to control her present.

Zellweger can’t sing exactly like Judy Garland but believe me, she can sing. Most of her singing scenes come in times where she has eyes of pressure looming over her but there are a couple where she seems to elegantly lose herself in her own melody. Zellweger’s general mannerisms are not overdramatic but are rather an unintended symbol of Judy’s constant transitions. She’s always traveling and therefore, must maintain the energy that lifestyle presents.

Judy has run into serious financial trouble. As a result, her ex Sidney Luft (Rufus Sewell) has filed for full custody of their children. She’s hoping her gigs in London will bring her enough money to allow her to permanently stay with her children but of course, it’s not as simple as that. Judy suffers from debilitating stage fright. People can be so cruel and literally rip her apart because she has the “audacity” to mess up out of a state of nervousness.

Judy’s state of mind goes up and down. There’s no general schedule in regards to her fluctuations in mood swings. Sometimes, she’s up and ready for action while other times, she’s going downhill. It depends on what day it is and how much is thrown at her that day.

There is, of course, a massive difference between pressure and love. Being Judy Garland comes with unspeakable pressure and she can always tell when she’s being pressured to be a fairytale and when she’s being loved for at the moment. There’s a beautiful scene where she meets a gay couple after one of her shows and they invite her back to their home where they have a fun and humorous time together.

She feels the sincerity of the loving warmth these two men give her and it fills her up to go on. Love is literally like food for her. She needs it cooked at a high temperature but somehow, her food (Treatment of her) almost always comes out raw. Judy’s children are her most satisfying cuisine and traveling away from them is like undergoing five weeks without sugar.

Flashbacks to Judy’s youth make your heart beat faster than a watch that runs too fast. You never know what the scene will entail but you know it won’t be good. Darci Shaw is a lovely girl but looks nothing like Judy in her youth. The performance she offers up shows that it’s true what they say: Looks aren’t everything. In Shaw’s case, they really aren’t. Shaw’s casting was clearly due to her ability to portray the affliction of being a childhood star that swirled around young Garland just like the tornado that took Dorothy to Oz.

Overall, Judy is a gentle and loving tribute to her talented essence just as much as it is a disturbing glimpse into her internal suffering. Every memory of her contributes another stone to her wall of legacy. It was a long time coming but I think it’s safe to say that thanks to a genuine acknowledgment of her pain and talent, Judy Garland has finally made it over the rainbow.

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