Movie Review - Judy
I think that pretty much anyone who has seen this movie has pretty much already awarded the Academy Award for best actress to Renee Zellweger. There are a lot of times that she eerily crosses over into actually channeling Garland on the screen.
The movie is very well made too. It is seamless which is pretty impressive considering the amount of musical numbers it contains. I've read one review where the movie is criticized for focusing more on the tragedy of Garland's life than actually presenting her as a real, flesh and bone human being. I cry bullshit on that. Garland's life was nothing, if not a tragedy, and if anything, the film took it a bit easy on her, choosing to present her as feminist martyr of sorts to the way they made movies when she first became a star.
The familiar tropes of a pushy, stage door mother and a crude, ham fisted studio mogul (Louis B. Mayer) are used to give her fans an excuse for Garland's erratic behavior. There is truth to this, no doubt. She was introduced to drugs as a means to control her weight by the powers who ran MGM, and she always felt that her mother cared more about money than she did about her.
But this in no way absolves her, as the film attempts to do, of her own egregious choices and preference for marrying bad men. Plenty of people have been hamstrung in life by circumstances and by people who only want to use them. Most of them don't end up drug addicts and alcoholics who toss their God given talents away.
Garland had her share of demons, a lot of us do. To pretend that being famous gives a person more latitude for bad behavior is simply a false idea. We may love them more for their beauty, but we should always hold them to the same standard as the rest of us. It might actually help them if we do.
The film does well in telling Judy's story in a kind of a shorthand. It depicts her doomed efforts to be a good mother and also shows how much that the people around her had to deal with in order to try and help her. It powerfully evokes the spirit of the London shows where she performed during what must have been the saddest period of her life when she was trying to regain her relevancy and financial footing while at the same time her life was spinning hopelessly out of control.
The film ultimately is about human life and how we choose to live it. It took a great deal of grit and determination to be Judy Garland. It also takes a great deal of grit and determination to be an ordinary human being. Judy is a cautionary tale to be sure, a warning to us all about the price of trying to stand out from the crowd, but the film, and Judy's life also shows us that things of immense beauty and importance can be engendered by great suffering and pain.
I highly recommend this movie. Zellweger is wonderful. The script is excellent, the acting even better, and on the whole, the movie is very well crafted. It is a powerful, very sad movie about a uniquely talented woman who never wanted to be ordinary, even if it cost her everything.
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