Zell­weger do­ing the hon­ors for Gar­land

The Morning Call - - GO GUIDE - By Michael Phillips

For an ac­tress, the role of Judy Gar­land courts com­par­i­son to climb­ing Mount Ever­est. Close, but it’s more like scal­ing Ever­est while Ever­est crum­bles be­neath your feet. you have to lug a floor mic up the crum­bling moun­tain with all the rest of your gear, whether you’re lip-sync­ing those fa­mous songs or not.

In the new film “Judy” Re­nee Zell­weger does not lip-sync. She sings. Zell­weger’s voice isn’t much like Gar­land’s; it’s higher, smaller, tighter. But you buy it as part of a fas­ci­nat­ing, fully com­mit­ted per­for­mance. The movie’s pretty good; though she’s hardly alone,

Zell­weger makes it worth see­ing.

“The slip­pery slope to a fade-out”: That’s how the real Gar­land char­ac­ter­ized her dreaded, worst-case ca­reer path, af­ter

MGM dropped her in the mid­dle of film­ing

“An­nie Get Your Gun.” “Judy” takes place at slope’s bot­tom. It’s a small film about a huge per­son­al­ity, set in De­cem­ber 1968 and early 1969, a few months be­fore Gar­land’s fa­tal ac­ci­den­tal over­dose.

We’re in Lon­don. The su­per­star, 46 at the time, has booked a badly needed en­gage­ment at the Talk of the Town night­club. Gar­land, an er­ratic vagabond of a per­former and a mother, needs the money; she has set her sights on win­ning a cus­tody bat­tle with her ex-hus­band and ex-man­ager, Sid Luft, played with sub­tle ex­as­per­a­tion and no lit­tle af­fec­tion by Ru­fus Sewell.

Gar­land’s old­est child, Liza Min­nelli

(played in a state­side cameo by Gemma-Leah Dev­ereux), is up and grown. Young Lorna Luft (Bella Ram­sey) and brother Joey (Lewin Lloyd), on the other hand, are still chil­dren, crav­ing some steadi­ness, re­li­a­bil­ity, calm.

“Judy” has four key re­la­tion­ships on its agenda. One in­volves Gar­land’s fifth and fi­nal hus­band, Mickey Deans (Finn Wit­trock), whose love for Judy, like his busi­ness acu­men, seems sus­pect to many in her tem­po­rary Lon­don sur­round­ings. Another spoke in the movie’s wheel con­nects Judy to her han­dler, Ros­alyn Wilder (Jessie Buck­ley, fan­tas­ti­cally nat­u­ral and true here), a no-non­sense English­woman.

And

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