Why You Need To See Renée Zellweger In Judy
Dressed in a blue gingham pinafore with long braided pigtails, carrying a not-so-practical basket is the enduring image of Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale – but not everything is magical over the rainbow.
Thirty years on from the yellow brick road, it’s 1968 and Judy Garland arrives in London for a sold-out run of shows at The Talk of the Town (now known as the London Hippodrome). Exhausted, nervous and her health declining, Judy – the latest bio-musical drama – unapologetically elucidates the final year of Garland’s life; one that is haunted by memories of a childhood lost to Hollywood and wrestling with her desire to be back home in Los Angeles with her children.
Embodying the charismatic and glitzy charm of Judy Garland, Renée Zellweger sheds her Bridget Jones image with a performance that has enough brilliance to be an Oscar contender. Known for her tremendous talent and troubled life, Garland struggled with deceitful management, five unsuccessful marriages and ongoing drug addiction, but her love and determination to be the mother she knew her children deserved fueled her momentum to continue. In an interview with Town and Country magazine, Zellweger expressed how powerfully Garland’s talent would inspire empathy and love from an audience: “everybody felt that she was talking to them, personally… That she somehow related to their pain.”
Heartwarmingly funny as it is poignant, Judy is a spectacular piece of cinema that guides audiences through an emotional portrayal of Judy Garland, offering insight into the late Hollywood icon’s accomplished life. If the flamboyant trailer is not enough to convince you to book your tickets ahead of the opening day, discover our three reasons why you need to watch Judy upon its UK release.
Renée Zellweger’s Oscar-worthy performance
Renée Zellweger is no stranger to a musical drama. Having lit the big screen as Roxie Hart in Chicago, Zellweger performs some of Garland’s most memorable hits, imitating the late songstress’ voice and classic style. From an energetic, soul-embodying performance of “Come Rain Or Come Shine” to the hauntingly beautiful rendition of “Over The Rainbow”, Zellweger received formal singing training to take on the role of Judy Garland.
Performing her first opening number, you’ll be surprised at the eerie resemblance Zellweger has to Garland. A meticulous level of consideration has gone into maintaining Judy’s signature quips and mannerisms and they are all brought to life: from the holding of a mic wire over her shoulder to the longing, sharp stare with the slight purse of lips Judy would hold during long pauses on-stage. To help that similarity, Zellweger underwent two hours a day transforming into the star, with prosthetics added to capture the “Judy look”, along with contact lenses and wigs – and afterwards, there was still a whole day of filming to be completed.
“I've always taken 'The Wizard of Oz' very seriously, you know. I believe in the idea of the rainbow. And I've spent my entire life trying to get over it.” - Judy Garland
A “Friend of Dorothy”
American LGBTQ magazine, The Advocate once named Garland, ‘The Elvis of Homosexuals’, and during a promotional spot for The Wizard of Oz, a young Judy once said; “I’m always trying to escape from myself”. Whether she was referencing her titular character (Dorothy Gale) or speaking about herself, the LGBTQ community identified with a relatable yet painful quality in Garland that they knew one too well in themselves.
Judy plays true to the love and adoration Judy Garland received from the LGBTQ community through a Garland-obsessed couple who vow to attend each night of her performances at The Talk of the Town. A heartwarming scene of a low-spirited and lonely Judy singing “Over The Rainbow” softly around a piano in the couples’ home steals the show. It is a powerful scene, capturing the unusual encounter between a superstar and two devoted fans, but one that emphasises Garland’s effect on those who felt they really knew her. While the chance encounter may or may not have happened, the legendary status Judy Garland that continues today among her LGBTQ fans is undisputable.
“I was born at the age of twelve on an MGM lot.” - Judy Garland
Far from Kansas
The romance of Hollywood’s Golden Age continues to linger to this day, but Judy is not afraid to delve into its dark past. From the misogynist MGM overlord, Louis B Mayer, who’s character ostensibly echoes Harvey Weinstein of the 1930s and ‘40s, to Judy’s own mother who she later referred to as “the real Wicked Witch of the West”; Judy Garland was sold to a life of showbusiness, performing 45 out of the 47 years of her life.
A young Judy Garland (played by newcomer Darci Shaw) appears in multiple cannily-timed flashbacks to her formative days spent on set of The Wizard of Oz. Bullied emotionally and physically about her appearance and weight, while plied with drugs to help her sleep or to keep her awake during long hours of filming by overbearing studio heads; Judy has never quite freed herself from her former childhood on the MGM lot. An emotionally charged performance from Darci Shaw reshifts Judy Garland’s tainted reputation of a “tragic figure”, one that was a victim of drugs and alcohol to a gifted, determined individual who was swallowed by Hollywood’s gruelling system. In an age of #MeToo and Time’s Up, Judy Garland’s story will resonate more than ever.