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Renée Zellweger gives a heartbreaking portrayal of Judy Garland in the last year of her sad life and declining career in the fictionalized but affecting “Judy.” Zellweger’s sometimes brutally unflattering performance is likely to garner the Oscar winner her fourth Academy Award nomination. (She won as Best Supporting Actress for 2003’s “Cold Mountain,” with Best Actress noms the previous two years for “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Chicago.”) Zellweger even does all of her own singing, pulling off a more than acceptable and sometimes genuinely moving impersonation of the falling star.
Flashbacks reveal the abuse teenage Judy suffered from tyrannical MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer (Richard Cordery). While giving her a threatening talking-to on the set of “The Wizard of Oz,” Mayer rudely insults everything about her but “that voice.” Judy’s parents never are shown taking her side, nor is anyone else who may have acted as any kind of advocate, leaving her isolated in her misery.
Pills - Awake - Others - Sleep - Weight
Supplied with pills to keep her awake and others to help her sleep, and discouraged from eating so she won’t gain weight, Judy is berated into submission after each small attempt at rebellion. She even finds herself casually rebuffed by co-star Mickey Rooney (Gus Barry). When she hopefully asks him if the two of them are dating, he nonchalantly replies, “Ask Mr. Mayer. I think we’re just pals.”
Newcomer Darci Shaw, who portrays the conflicted and melancholy teenage Judy, looks more like a young Elizabeth Taylor than like Garland. Her obvious beauty undercuts the intended cruelty of Mayer’s remarks about Judy’s appearance, or at least alters their context, making them come off as strictly psychological abuse rather than coldly objective humiliation.
Judy - Remarks - Looks - Heart - Reason
The real Judy was not traditionally cover-girl gorgeous, so she could have taken cutting remarks about her looks to heart. The only reason this movie’s Judy...
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