RFF14: Judy


Rupert Goold debuts biopic on Judy Garland starring an extraordinary Renée Zellweger

Renée Zellweger gives one of the best performances of the year in Rupert Goold’s biopic Judy, which had its world premiere at Telluride Film Festival in August and was theatrically released in the United States on September 27, 2019. The film is now participating in the Official Selection at Rome Film Festival and it has been positively received by the critics, who praised Zellweger’s touching portrayal of the actress-singer.

The film is an adaptation of the stage play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter but also a pretty accurate recreation of Judy Garland’s final two years. Judy starts in 1968, with the end of her marriage with Sidney Luft (her third husband) and the actress-singer struggling for custody of her two younger children Lorna and Joey (the first is Liza Minnelli, that she had from her previous marriage). She is 46, her career is in decline and Hollywood is tired of her temper tantrums. Something seems to change when she meets Mickey Deans (a younger man that will become her later husband) and when she is offered to perform a series of concerts at London’s Talk of The Town. Heartbroken, she accepts to go abroad, leaving her children with Luft but promising them to come back and move to a new place together.

Goold has a long experience as a theatre director which turned out to be very useful in recreating the magical atmosphere of Talk of the Town concert hall, where Judy Garland performed. Also, Goold shows his skills in marking the contrast between public and private, highlighting the character’s few moments of enthusiasm as well as her constant despair. This is also the perfect role for Zellweger, who captures Garland’s teenage spirit and also the long time effects of the psychological abuse she had to deal with as a child-actress.

Her portrait is raw, her voice is touching and Judy delivers a female figure that we won’t forget. The cast also stars actors Rufus Sewell, Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock and Michael Gambon. The film will be released in Italy in January, 2020.


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