I have been yearning to watch ‘Judy’ since I saw the trailer earlier this year, mainly because I am gay and there is nothing in the world is gayer than Judy Garland. But the real reason one should see this film is because of Renee Zellweger’s once-in-a-lifetime performance as Garland. Seriously, her performance is multi-faceted, and she disappears before our eyes and instantly one of the greatest performers who ever lived is all of a sudden right there. She does a very specific version of Garland – around six months or so before her death – and it is awe-inspiring, heartbreaking, tragic, and everything a characterization should be. I am already rooting for her to win everything.
The film she is in, though, isn’t as impressive. The film is based on Peter Quilter’s play ‘The End Of The Rainbow,’ which tackles the final months of Garland’s life, from the time she goes to London for a series of one woman shows. She has already been ostracized in the States because of her problematic and erratic performances, but in England she is still queen. Of course, nothing goes right – she is already addicted at this point. The film takes long to get going, and you get a point where you realize it doesn’t know where it wants to go. I liked the framework of the play this is based on, which more or less documented the highs and low of that particular run in London. The film tried to broaden the story by inserting flashback scenes to show how she became to be, and the result is confusing – you shake your head and say, ‘which story do you want to tell?’
But there is one part here that touched my heart immensely, when the film shows Garland ‘befriending’ two of her biggest fans, a gay couple, and she goes to dinner with them, all ending up at their house in the wee hours of the morning. As one of them plays the piano, she sings a tender version of ‘Get Happy,’ and there’s a look at that fan’s moment that I can relate to – that feeling of having a moment of a person you have idolized, and realizing their humanness is as great as their persona. I have been in the exact same feeling, and the film captures that moment and that feeling. This film is perfect for someone if you have ever been a fan of someone, but I bet you will get out of it being a lifelong fan of Renee.