Judy Garland had been a star almost since she was born appearing in films under a brutal studio system that ran just about every aspect of her life maintaining a persona that the studio bosses wanted which covered the boys/men she was seen with and went as far as the food she ate (there’s a moving scene where her studio assigned chaperone won’t let her drink the milkshake she’s photographed with) and depriving her of meals and keeping her on a series of pills to maintain her figure. It was a recipe for tragedy in her later life and director Rupert Goold’s film Judy covers that latter period. Her halcyon days were behind her and as an adult she was struggling with her declining stardom playing in venues hardly befitting of someone regarded as the world’s greatest entertainer (which is probably overegging it a little bit) and living in a hotel with her children that was beyond her earnings and finally getting kicked out which is ultimately where the film picks up in the Judy Blu ray / DVD.
But it was winter 1968 that she was offered a life line to head a series of shows in London’s West End in a sell out run of The Talk of the Town 30 years after The Wizard of Oz had cemented her stardom . Then film follows Judy Garland torn between her renewed income earning shows in London and desperately missing her children back in the US. The battles with her management were ferocious but she charmed her fans and fellow musicians and even manages to find romance in yet another clearly unsuitable man that resulted with her marrying what would be her fifth husband.
Judy Garland had worked for 45 of her 47 years and it was no surprise that she was exhausted, haunted by a lost childhood due to the Hollywood studios pushing her into more and more projects and this is covered in a number of nicely recreated flashbacks and her battle with drink and pill popping are well documented as they are here and it’s little wonder that by 1969 she died far too young. The film based on an Olivier nominated film ‘End of the Rainbow’ by Pete Quilter and Liza Minelli has apparently been forthright in not approving of the project which is a shame because this is sympathetic to the woman who had battled with her personal demons for nearly all her life and Renee Zellweger is astonishing in the role with all the songs in the film being live performances by the actress. She has caught the movements and mannerisms of Garland even down to the slight curvature of the spine and it’s no surprise that she has been nominated for Best Actress Oscar and is the favourite to take the award. There’s a featurette on transforming Renee into Judy but its barely two minutes long and deserves longer especially as this is one of the two Oscars that the film has been nominated.
Judy is a film built around a great performance and perhaps rightly so in this case and gives an insight into why she became and remains a gay icon and Andy Nyman as Dan along with his boyfriend Stan good value in the roles of devoted fans taking care of her after one particularly terrible night at the theatre.
The Judy blu ray & DVD is thin on bonus features with the only other extras being a vanilla featurette behind the scenes and also 3 deleted scenes. A commentary with director Goold and Zellweger would seem to have been a must but is sadly absent. Nonetheless Judy is very good with a barnstorming central performance
Here’s the Judy blu ray trailer ……..
JUDY BLU RAY & DVD is AVAILABLE ON 3RD FEBRUARY 2020