Whenever I see a biopic, I am always cautious. “Judy” is no exception. Featuring Rene Zellweger as Judy Garland, “Judy” focuses on the tail end of Garland's career and the performances in London which helped her make ends meet.
Other than Zellweger's Oscar-worthy performance as Garland, the film is a bland and inconsistent mess. The dialogue is great at some points, but at other points feels poorly written. The overall aesthetic of the film feels cheap and does not immerse you into late 60s London. Do not even get me started on the score. Whoever composed it did a mediocre job; it felt like a generic score that could have been used in almost any movie. The cinematography was clever at points but never gave audiences anything to look forward to as most of the shots and scenes are devoid of creativity. The editing is average, not too choppy but not unique enough to stand out from any other film.
There are points in the film in which Garland’s childhood is shown and they display abuse from film executive Louis B. Mayer. Those moments highlight the issues I had with “Judy.” While the acting is not terrible in these scenes, the writing is so inconsistent. I had a hard time taking the interactions between Mayer and young Garland seriously. This is unfortunate, since the real-life abuse of Garland was devastating. There should be a documentary covering Garland’s childhood, as it was far more interesting than her later life.
On a positive note, Zellweger’s singing is great and believable. She also nails Garland’s attitude on stage and her struggle with addiction. Garland’s assistant in London, played by Jessie Buckley, is fantastic. She is both level-headed and fierce, a rare combination. While her interactions with Garland may be limited, they are the best part of the movie since they actually feel natural. Judy’s interaction with her kids is also not completely terrible, although it is not anything worth writing about. Garland’s ex-husband makes an appearance in the film and he is probably the worst actor in the movie. He is lifeless and does not add any further tension to the plot.
Outside of Zellweger’s performance, I do not see this film getting any major awards buzz. It does not have the dramatic weight a film like “Moonlight” had, nor is it particularly funny. At best, “Judy” may get a couple of nominations for production design and costumes, but that is being generous. This is a shame considering how iconic Garland was to millions of people. Songs like “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” are still remembered thanks to Garland’s excellent singing.
“Judy,” is another example of how not to do a biopic. Its writing is inconsistent and boring, the visuals are uninspiring and, outside of a couple of great performances, the acting is either over the top or nonexistent. While this film is not a travesty like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” it is not anything special and will probably be forgotten once it reaches streaming services.
Final Score 2.5 out of 5 stars
Thumbnail photo courtesy of @castingbypatrickbacacsa Instagram.
Ian Ward is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.