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Yasmeen Mamdouh
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Judy: When Fame Turns into a Curse

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Having no clue about their ‘behind the scenes’ life, audiences tend to superficially judge and dehumanise celebrities. Based on that theme, Judy delves into the life of actress Judy Garland, whose fame, turning from a blessing into a curse, weaved a toxic web of prejudice around her.

The biopic follows the life of Judy Garland (Renée Zellweger) as her stardom tumbles thirty years after her life-changing role in The Wizard of Oz, leading a life that is much different than that of her younger self. Judy, now with two kids to look after and no source of income, makes desperate attempts to make money and find a guy to be a father to her children. Judy accepts an offer to perform at a popular nightclub in London; however, because of her constant reliance on pills and alcohol, the shows never go smoothly. Struggling with her demons, angry crowds, and her fifth husband, Judy may have actually hit rock bottom.

The plot mainly focuses on Judy’s present state, with multiple flashbacks to her childhood on set and what she had to endure; from extreme dieting and pill reliance to body shaming. While the content of the flashbacks had a lot of protentional and generated fascination from audiences, its relevance to Judy’s current state seems very tenuous. Of course, what happened in her childhood stardom days casts its shadows on her current state, yet it hasn’t been used wisely in the feature. One can’t help but wonder what an interesting movie it could have been had it been about her early life.

The film shows Garland’s troubles and demons with multiple performances and incidents, yet not to the extent where the audience can relate or sympathise deeply with her – which happens to be the feature’s biggest issues.

The banger of this movie is Renée Zellweger, who delivers a showstopper of a performance; whether through Judy’s singing acts or otherwise. Zellweger was able to capture Garland’s character from the wry wit to the debilitating troubles as well as humanise her, despite the lack of emphasis on that crucial point. With mixing fake confidence, despair, and humour in the tone of her voice, her facial expressions and body language, Zellweger is utterly remarkable. Playing young Judy, Darci Shaw also delivered a fantastic performance, leaving audiences hungry for more.

You should see Judy for Renée Zellweger’s performance, but it’s likely that you won’t help thinking that both Judy Garland and the actress playing her deserve better.


Like This? Try

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016), Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), and Rocketman (2019).  

360 Tip

Renée Zellweger is set to release her first ever solo album covering songs by Judy Garland.

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