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film review

Renée Zellweger excels as Judy Garland in the new biopic Judy.David Hindley/The Associated Press

  • Judy
  • Directed by Rupert Goold
  • Written by Tom Edge
  • Starring Renée Zellweger, Finn Wittrock and Jessie Buckley
  • Classification PG
  • 118 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

This is one of those solo turns where the star performance matters more than the story, and Renée Zellweger, playing the legendary singer Judy Garland in her sad last months – broke, anxious, drunk, rueful, but still in it – gives it everything she’s got. She looks sensational (if scary-skinny) in the clothes, she works the prosthetic teeth, she belts out the tunes, she shimmers like 10,000 sequins.

Films opening this weekend: Renée Zellweger’s star performance as Judy, the adorable Abominable and haunting Monos

Screenwriter Tom Edge, adapting Peter Quilter’s stage play End of the Rainbow, does his best to put a fresh spin on familiar scenes: Judy the child star, being bullied by Louis B. Mayer; Judy the insomniac, lost in a lifelong cycle of uppers and downers; Judy the trouper, who comes alive under the lights. But unfortunately, we don’t learn anything new about showbiz or what specific things in Judy’s specific character kept her trapped in her doomed arc.

And though Zellweger sounds terrific, she’s not Garland. No one could be. Those who loved Garland put up with anything, forgave everything, because of that voice. I miss her voice.

Judy opens Sept. 27

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