Reviewed by Suzanne Petrofsky, Library Assistant
The 2019 film Judy is an excellent drama that traces the last performing days of the legendary singer and actress Judy Garland. The film opens with a flashback to Judy’s teen years, as she prepares for the lead in The Wizard of Oz. Judy was under a lot of pressure at the time, being forced to work 18-hour days and take pills to make her sleep, wake her up, and keep her from being hungry so she would meet others’ expectations, including MGM’s studio manager Louis B. Mayer, who harangued her about her weight. There are flashbacks throughout the film that provide insight into how Judy developed so many problems and insecurities as she grew older.
The first scene transitions to 1968, with Judy (Renée Zellweger) stepping onstage with her young children Lorna and Joey, a performance for which Judy is paid a paltry $150. When they arrive back at Judy’s hotel, they discover Judy has been kicked out of her room for nonpayment. She is forced to take the kids to their father Sidney Luft’s (Rufus Sewell) home for the night, where she must leave them for a more stable existence.
In the morning, the reality of her financial crisis sets in, and, after meeting with her manager, Judy agrees to a series of well-paying concerts in London, where she is still in high demand as a singer. The movie focuses on this five-week period and Judy’s manic ups and downs, where on some nights she garners standing ovations and on others she has food thrown at her. One night, she collapses onstage and is unable to continue. Longtime boyfriend Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock) shows up in the middle of it all, and Judy embarks on her fifth rocky marriage at a time when she is consumed by problems with drugs, alcohol, and mental instability.
The movie shows a performer on a downward slide, the antithesis to Judy’s character in the 1954 award-winning film A Star Is Born. The acting is stellar, and, along with performing all the songs in the film, Zellweger won an Oscar. Although the plot wanders and flounders a bit, with some historical inaccuracies included, overall, Judy is a film well worth seeing for its depiction of a woman with a troubled mind but a heart of gold.
Borrow it today from Herrick Library through Curbside Pickup.