Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rupert Goold|
|Screenplay by||Tom Edge|
|Based on||End of the Rainbow|
by Peter Quilter
|Music by||Gabriel Yared|
|Cinematography||Ole Bratt Birkeland|
|Edited by||Melanie Ann Oliver|
|Box office||$43.7 million|
Judy is a 2019 biographical drama film based on the life of American actress Judy Garland. Directed by Rupert Goold, it is an adaptation of the Olivier- and Tony-nominated West End and Broadway play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter. The film stars Renée Zellweger as Garland, with Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell, and Michael Gambon in supporting roles.
The film follows Judy Garland's career during the last year of her life when she relocated her stage career to Britain, coupled with flashbacks to her teenage years, most prominently the filming of her part as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz, Garland's most iconic role. After some initial success for a run of sell-out concerts at the Talk of the Town in London, her efforts eventually stop making progress and even start to worsen due to health issues.
Judy premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on 30 August 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on 27 September 2019, and in the United Kingdom on 2 October 2019. It grossed $43.9 million worldwide and received generally positive reviews from critics, with major praise drawn towards Zellweger's performance, which won her the Golden Globe Award, SAG Award, BAFTA Award, and the Academy Award for Best Actress.
At the outset of the film, Judy Garland is 15 years old and is being told by her studio manager, Louis B. Mayer, that she has a gift other girls do not. Judy's talent at singing is nearly unmatched while she is able to surpass the success of Shirley Temple as a Hollywood child star. Judy is then shown in her forties, performing with her two children from her marriage to Sidney Luft, her third husband. Later, Judy and her children try to check into their hotel but are turned away for previous nonpayment. Because of this, Judy is forced to return home to Luft, who has since divorced her.
At a party, Judy meets Mickey Deans, a nightclub owner, and they become friends. In a flashback to her teenage years with Mickey Rooney, her studio minder interrupts a date to give Judy amphetamines to help control her appetite and thus keep her weight down. The action returns to 1968, with Judy seeing an agent who tells her that Britain is open to her, but that the US reception to her has cooled due to her performance unreliability and moodiness. Judy decides to embark for the UK, leaving her two children with Luft, which is difficult for her.
In the UK, substance abuse keep her from performing reliably. Judy is late to her London première and assistants are called upon to check on her health and fix her make-up. The fans are enthusiastic and her performance is excellent. The film has another flashback to Judy at 15 years old. She complains about being fed with pills to help her meet her schedule demands. Back in London in 1968, she is performing again and starts to sing the "Clang, clang, clang..." lyrics to "The Trolley Song" to loud applause.
Judy meets two adoring gay fans at the stage door on her way out and joins them for a late-night snack at their flat. They bond over their difficulties, and she sings "Get Happy" while one of the fans plays the piano. Deans comes to London on a surprise visit, which cheers her up. Judy still has trouble making her stage performances on time because of substance abuse and anxiety. Another flashback shows Mayer talking to her at 15 years of age, with Judy portrayed as exhausted by her childhood schedule, and Mayer portrayed as using emotional abuse and physical intimidation to keep her in line.
Her sponsoring British agent has her examined by a voice specialist medical doctor. Judy says she had a tracheotomy two years ago, which weakened her voice. The doctor diagnoses physical and mental exhaustion, which requires rest for recovery. Her relationship with Deans is a support to her personal life, and they marry. He is her fifth husband. Judy still thinks about her children and suffers from being separated from them. The children, however, are happy in school in California. Deans has bad news about a money deal that fell through, which means she must stay in Britain in order to make ends meet. At her next performance, she passes out on stage and is heckled. Judy’s singing engagement is terminated but she returns for a last night on stage, where she asks to perform one last song. She breaks down while singing "Over the Rainbow" but recovers with the encouragement of supportive fans and is able to complete the performance. Judy asks, "You won't forget me, will you?" to the audience, who applaud before she ends her performance by saying, "Promise you won't". The film's epilogue states that Judy died six months later, in the summer of 1969, at the age of 47.
- Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland
- Darci Shaw as young Judy Garland
- Jessie Buckley as Rosalyn Wilder
- Finn Wittrock as Mickey Deans
- Rufus Sewell as Sidney Luft
- Michael Gambon as Bernard Delfont
- Richard Cordery as Louis B. Mayer
- Bella Ramsey as Lorna Luft
- Royce Pierreson as Burt Rhodes
- Andy Nyman as Dan
- Phil Dunster as Ben
- Daniel Cerqueira as Stan
- Arthur McBain as Askith
- John Dagleish as Lonnie Donegan
- Gemma-Leah Devereux as Liza Minnelli
- David Rubin as Noel
- Lewin Lloyd as Joey Luft
- Fenella Woolgar as Margaret Hamilton
- Gus Barry as Mickey Rooney
Judy had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on 30 August 2019. It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September 2019. The film was theatrically released in the United States on 27 September 2019, by Roadside Attractions and LD Entertainment, and in the United Kingdom on 2 October 2019, by 20th Century Fox, Pathé's British Distributor.
The soundtrack for the film was released on September 28, 2019 by Decca Records. It features twelve of Garland's most popular tracks performed by Zellweger, including several that were featured in the movie, as well as duets with Sam Smith and Rufus Wainwright.
The film made $2.9 million in its opening weekend, from 461 theatres, finishing seventh at the box office; 60% of its audiences was female, while 79% were over the age of 35. It expanded to 1,458 theatres the following weekend and made $4.6 million, finishing sixth, before making $3.2 million in its third weekend, returning to seventh place.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 82% based on 327 reviews, with an average rating of 6.95/10. The website's consensus reads, "Led by a deeply committed performance from Renée Zellweger, Judy captures the waning days of a beloved performer with clear-eyed compassion." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 66 out of 100, based on 46 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.
Zellweger garnered much critical acclaim for her performance in the title role, with several critics labelling her a frontrunner to win the Academy Award for Best Actress, which she would later go on to win. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called Zellweger's portrayal of Judy Garland "the performance of the year," while Zoe Gahan of Vanity Fair wrote, "a stellar stage-stomping performance. It is hard to tell where Garland stops and Zellweger starts... Go and see this film. Laugh and weep, bawl your eyes out—she deserves every tear." Eric Kohn of IndieWire gave the film a "C", stating that "Zellweger inhabits the role of the jaded, soul-searching musical icon reasonably well within a dreary and unremarkable saga that finds her grappling with her past, contending with pill-popping addictions and a broken family. It's a familiar story that Judy struggles to freshen up, at least until Zellweger takes the mic."
Monica Castillo of RogerEbert.com gave the film two out of four stars; though she praised how the film contextualised Garland's abusive childhood, she criticised Goold's direction and Zellweger's performance, stating that "there are spots in the movie where Zellweger's affected manners become too distracting and overshadow everything else around her.... Try as she might, Zellweger's Judy never goes beyond an impression of the multi-talented artist; her all-caps version of acting fails to allow the role to feel natural."
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