Judy

Critics Consensus

Led by a deeply committed performance from Renée Zellweger, Judy captures the waning days of a beloved performer with clear-eyed compassion.

83%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 276

85%

Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 5,732
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Movie Info

Winter 1968 and showbiz legend Judy Garland arrives in Swinging London to perform a five-week sold-out run at The Talk of the Town. It is 30 years since she shot to global stardom in The Wizard of Oz, but if her voice has weakened, its dramatic intensity has only grown. As she prepares for the show, battles with management, charms musicians and reminisces with friends and adoring fans, her wit and warmth shine through. Even her dreams of love seem undimmed as she embarks on a whirlwind romance with Mickey Deans, her soon-to-be fifth husband. Featuring some of her best-known songs, the film celebrates the voice, the capacity for love, and the sheer pizzazz of "the world's greatest entertainer."

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Critic Reviews for Judy

All Critics (276) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (229) | Rotten (47)

Audience Reviews for Judy

  • Sep 28, 2019
    The real reason to watch Judy is the triumphant, blazing return of Renee Zellweger as the talent we've known her to be as an actress. She's faded from the spotlight over the last decade, gotten a controversial face lift, and spent over a year prepping to play the role of the legendary Judy Garland during a 1969 British tour, what would prove to be the last months of her life. Zellweger disappears into the character, astonishingly recreating the mannerisms, posture, and vocal cadences of the famous Old Hollywood Wizard of Oz star. She's tremendous and the while clearly troubled and weathered, the film takes a remarkably sympathetic approach to its subject. Garland's present-day alcoholism, pill popping, and narcissism can trace their roots to her young days as a teenage studio star where the powers that be, namely studio honcho Louis B. Mayer, would bully her, harass her, and molest her. The exploitation mechanisms of Old Hollywood made me wish that Judy was a more unconventional movie, blending the past and present into a daring, metaphorical journey over the rainbow of a woman in the spotlight her entire life. Instead, we're watching Garland stumble onto the stage, struggle to sleep and perform, and live a sad existence where she can be reminded, just every so often, the impact she can have, like a sweet impromptu home visit with a gay couple that is a miracle of tiny kindnesses. There's not much plot here as the film, too, stumbles and shambles to its finale, with very little attention given to the supporting characters. Her whirlwind romance with a younger man (Finn Wittrock) fails to ignite much insight, and he's named Mickey, so I was confusing him as an adult Mickey Rooney, who appears onscreen in flashbacks and was Judy's first love (she asked if they were dating and Rooney said he would have to check with Mayer — every woman's dream). Watching he movie made me feel like there was a stronger version of this story begging to be told. Regardless, Judy is a well made if conventional biopic with a real razzle-dazzle performance from Zelwegger, who stunned me with her final singing number and the emotions she was able to dredge. Judy will be best remembered for her alone and that's perfectly right. Nate's Grade: B
    Nate Z Super Reviewer
  • Sep 28, 2019
    Biopics have evolved in recent years favoring a specifically selected moment in their subjects' lives instead of going for the sprawling epic treatment. Consider the differences between The Last Emperor and Stan & Ollie as one example. What you lose in a comprehensive overview, you gain with more honed dramatic storytelling. The latest example, Judy, based on a play by Peter Quilter, written by Tom Edge and directed by Rupert Goold (True Story), concentrates mainly on a couple of months in 1968 as the legendary Judy Garland traveled to London for a series of sold out stage performances. Broke, addicted to drugs and alcohol, lonely and battered by a tough life, she would die six months later. Flashbacks to one of her biggest triumphs, The Wizard Of Oz, only serve to demonstrate the beginnings of her troubles. I'm reminded of My Week With Marilyn and Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool, where the lead performance outshone everything else, and Judy certainly features an astounding turn by Renée Zellweger in what amounts to a small but heartbreaking character study. While she has the mannerisms down pat and sings well enough to bare her soul, Zellweger's achievement along with Goold's is to hone in on every minute emotion which flashes across her face. An early scene in which Judy fails to secure a hotel room for herself and her children because she has no money, proves devastating due to Zellweger's microexpressions. While unflappable with the desk clerk and putting on a brave face for her kids, she also conveys a deep-seated heartbreak, and it's an astonishing piece of acting. It's easy to see how he daughter Liza inherited her mother's smile-through-tears approach to life. Gorgeously filmed, with a special mention to cinematographer Ole Bratt Birkeland (American Animals), Judy really excels during the musical numbers, where the camera work feels completely in sync with its subject. While tonally middle of the road and sometimes maudlin, the film, nonetheless, resonates for anyone who has ever felt abandoned or put out to pasture and just trying to tough it out. While Rufus Sewall and Finn Wittrock have their stern and delightful moments respectively as Judy's last two husbands, it's Jessie Buckley as Garland's London assistant and Andy Nyman as a gay fan who make true impressions in the shadow of Zellweger. Buckley, who in her young career has excelled at playing the wild child, tamps down her instincts for a much more still approach, and she succeeds in finding the empathetic core to a character in a tough situation. Nyman, as one half of a gay couple who befriend Garland for an evening, beautifully stands in for her legions of fans. In fact, their scenes together stand our more than anything else in the film, culminating in a tear-inducing climax you won't soon forget. No longer portrayed as the tragic diva, Garland gets her due as a funny, sweet, fun hangout kinda gal. Would she have been revered as much had she not lived such a troubled life? Would she have inspired the Stonewall Riots had she not died right before they occurred? We'll never know, but Judy, and Zellweger's monumental achievement, assures we'll continue to treasure this smart, talented woman.
    Glenn G Super Reviewer

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