Review By Daniel Occelli (Mexico City)
“I just want what everybody wants. I seem to have a harder time getting it.”
Judy is directed by Rupert Goold, they guy that brought us that film True Story, the non-comedy starring Jonah Hill and James Franco that nobody really saw. And this time he tells the story of the last concerts Judy Garland ever performed in London and her struggles during those stressful times in her life.
It seems to be the perfect time for music biopics, and maybe this film is not as in the spotlight as a Bohemian Rhapsody or a Rocketman, but nevertheless it follows the same tropes and tells the same story. This time we follow Judy throughout her horrible childhood and her troubled last months, and maybe the story wasn’t as engaging as I would’ve liked, but, man, Renee Zellweger really disappeared into this role. I was doubtful about this film, and I ended up liking it quite a bit, all thanks to her, she stole the film from the beginning. The scenes that are shown on trailers make her feel as this witty character, always fast with a comeback, but in reality she’s so much more than that. She’s naive, and scarred and just a sad lonely woman trying to have a normal life. There is one scene that turned me around, specifically a moment where she invites herself to dinner with a couple of fans. That is where she really shines, in the more intimate moments.
Where does the movie fail then? It really doesn’t, it’s just not a story that will capture everyone’s interest. There are characters that are only there to be as$#oles, and that’s their only purpose. I didn’t love that. The pacing can drag a bit in the second act, but the performances surrounding Renee Zellweger are pretty good, which makes the slow moments more bearable, they just never shine as much compared to her performance. It truly is masterful how she transformed into this person, she’s not playing the character Judy was in front of audiences, but the person Judy was behind the scenes, and she committed so, so much to this that she disappeared into the role of a lifetime.
Technically the film is pretty good too. I liked the concert scenes, how we follow her steadily on the good nights and the camera feels to lose balance with her on the bad nights. The flashbacks were my favorite part of the movie, because the moments she starts to lose likeability we are reminded why. And it truly is terrifying the childhood this woman had, with such talent, but not love to grow around it, other than the fans.
Judy ends up being saved by the lead performance and the overall acting in the film. It is heartwarming and it has a great finale, but in the end it’s just a little forgettable in the music biopic era. Check it out if you’re a sucker for performance movies.
P.S. There is no way she’s not taking home the Oscar.