Zellweger doing the honors for Garland
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.