Renée Zellweger continues her campaign against London as Judy Garland, whose struggles with substance abuse and custody battles bring her to England in 1969, in the feelbad romp of the year.
This screening began with a message from Zellweger informing us that we were about to watch a celebration of Judy, which seemed redundant at the time but over the next couple of hours proved itself a weird kind of defence, as though test audiences had been put off by the biopic’s treatment of its subject and needed reassuring. A more honest pre-movie Zellweger would have told us to steel ourselves for a sluggish, gruelling ordeal, closer to the new Rambo than somewhere over the rainbow.
That’s not to fault Zellweger (although it’s annoying hearing about Garland’s beautiful singing voice without getting to actually hear it), who brings sympathy and charm to the greyer-than-Kansas screenplay. The problem is everything else, right down to the font, glitteringly suggesting fun and singing and dancing. In reality, fun is so far down Judy‘s agenda it could get squished by a Munchkin. Given how obviously ill-advised the decision to make a depressing drama about someone whose name is synonymous with camp, it’s no wonder the font wants to be in a different film.
Garland isn’t shown to be deliberately self-destructive like Elton John in Rocketman, rather she’s trying her hardest to succeed. It’s the movie that’s masochistic, all downers and no uppers, never letting her so much as make a decision, let alone have any growth. Like Dorothy she ends the film where she began. Like the Wizard the rest is smoke and mirrors.