'Judy' [Blu-ray Combo Pack]
(Renée Zellweger, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon, et al / Blu-ray + DVD + Digital / PG-13 / 2019 / LGF)
Overview: Thirty years after rising to global stardom in The Wizard of Oz, showbiz legend Judy Garland (Renée Zellweger) arrives in London to perform a five-week sold-out run at The Talk of the Town.
While preparing for the shows, Garland battles with management, reminisces with friends and adoring fans, and embarks on a whirlwind romance with soon-to-be fifth husband Mickey Deans — all while bravely struggling to overcome intensifying anxiety and physical decline.
Featuring some of her best-known songs, the film celebrates the unyielding spirit and matchless talent of “the world’s greatest entertainer."
Blu-ray Verdict: I can remember watching 'The Wizard of Oz' on television once a year when I was a boy, so I have been acquainted with Judy Garland (Renee Zellweger, who did her own singing, and Darci Hall in flashbacks) for almost all my life.
I don't recall ever reading a biography about her, but I have watched at least one TV mini-series about her life. This movie, 'Judy' focuses on the last year of her life before her premature death from a drug overdose at the age of 47.
It starts by showing her reduced to accepting $150 for a live performance featuring her two younger children, Lorna (Bella Ramsey) and Joey Luft (Lewin Lloyd). I should add that Liza Minnelli, played by Gemma-Leah Devereux, was an adult by this time and appears in one scene.
They live in hotels until Garland gets so far behind in their rent that she is forced to apply for help from her second husband Sid Luft (Rufus Sewell), who is fighting for custody of Lorna and Joey.
One of the issues, which the film shows repeatedly, is Garland's alcoholism and addiction to amphetamines and barbiturates. Judy and Sid come to a temporary accord when she travels to London for a five week engagement at the cabaret-restaurant Talk of the Town while the children live with him.
Most of the film concerns her time in London with a few flashbacks to the time when she was filming 'The Wizard of Oz.' During the last year of her life, she met and married her fifth and last husband Mickey Deans (Finn Whitrock), who later wrote a book about their brief time together.
While Garland was in London, she was looked after by Rosalyn Wilder (Jessie Buckley), a long-time employee of the club, where the audience was known for throwing breadsticks at performers who displeased them.
In fact, Wilder is still alive and served as a consultant on the film, talking to Zellweger, Buckley, the film's production designer, and its costumer.
She also provided a tape recording by Deans of one of Garland's performances that the club had confiscated, but even so, I still feel as if the film took a few liberties with what actually happened.
For instance, a scene in which Wilder had to visit Garland's hotel room to help her dress for her performance never happened (from all my knowledge on the subject, so to speak).
But, and on the whole, Wilder has said that the film is a good representation of the time. On the other hand, none of Garland's children were involved with the film, although the filmmaker did read Lorna's book about her mother.
Liza posted on Facebook that she neither approved nor sanctioned the movie, but nonetheless Zellweger is truly excellent, as usual, and there is speculation that her performance will earn her a fourth Oscar nomination (she last won for 'Cold Mountain.').
Before filming began, she trained for one year with a voice coach and then for four months with the film's musical director. Oh, and she is three years older than Garland was at the time this film is set.
The make-up artist extended her nose slightly to match Garland's and she wore contact lenses to match Garland's eye color along with a variety of wigs, of course.
Two of the best performances are provided by Andy Nyman and John Dagleish as a fictional gay couple who invite Garland to their apartment for a late dinner after one of her performances.
One of the funniest scenes in the movie takes place when neither of them can figure out how to make an omelet! Overall, I would say that this is an excellent movie, although I can't vouch for its accuracy, of course.
Ultimately, 'Judy' acts as a melodramatic cautionary tale for aspiring performers and working artists by illuminating the sheer amount of no holds barred sacrifice that is needed to even have a chance at a career.
In truth, Zellweger's real life dysfunction from being failed by the Hollywood machine herself bleeds into her performance and gives it a truly lived-in authenticity that is also rather quite something to see. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
• “From the Heart: The Making of Judy”
• Judy Image Gallery
• Theatrical Trailer
Take a peek behind the curtain of one of Hollywood's greatest entertainers, Judy Garland, played by Oscar winner Renée Zellweger.
'Judy' arrives on Digital December 10th, 2019 and on Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus Digital), DVD and On Demand December 24th, 2019 from Lionsgate.
Official 'Becoming Judy' Behind The Scenes Clip
Official 'Celebrating Judy' Behind The Scenes Clip
Official 'Judy' Trailer
Official 'Judy' Website
Official 'Judy' Facebook Page
Official 'Judy' Instagram Page
Official 'Judy' Twitter Page