A Review of the film Judy

Everyone knows the girl behind the red slippers. Judy Garland has been one of the most iconic legends since the release of the classic movie The Wizard of Oz. Despite starting in Vaudeville, Judy Garland had her big break as the beloved Dorothy Gale when she was 16 years old. The Wizard of Oz was released in August of 1939, and after that, Garland became known as the image of the girl next door. With the success of The Wizard of Oz, Garland landed many more famous roles in movies such as Meet Me in St. Louis. The life of Judy Garland has inspired many films, television shows, and even musicals. 

Judy’s life was recently put back on display on September 27, 2019, with the release of the biopic titled Judy. The film features the adult life of Judy Garland, played by Renée Zellweger, months before Garland’s death on June 22, 1969. The film takes place 30 years after her role as Dorothy and tells the narrative of Judy’s struggle with drug abuse, custody of her children, love, and even money. Within the last months of her life and the setting of the film, Garland performs at the Talk of the Town Nightclub in London to pay off her debts so she can live with her children. The movie not only shows the determination and charisma of Judy Garland, but also the struggles she endured starting at a young age.

Zellweger (on the right) portraying Judy Garland (on the left). As shown in the image, Zellweger totally transformed herself in order to capture the same physique as Judy.

Throughout the film, Darci Shaw portrayed a young Judy Garland as she films the movie Wizard of Oz. Despite the fantasy of being the role of Dorothy, viewers can see the harsh reality of Judy as she struggles to be a teenager. Garland is pushed over her limits to keep the physique and attitude of her image as the girl next door. Pressure from her mother and her producers causes the heavy involvement of drugs so that she has enough energy and does not eat. Garland was reprimanded for eating as producers worried she would lose the physique of her character. In one scene young Garland cries that she has rehearsed for so long that she is unable to remember her own name. The complete manipulation and control over her life can be seen to affect Garland later on in her life. Throughout many scenes of the film, Garland is unable to sleep or eat and is constantly carrying a drink in one hand. The many drugs she consumed in order to keep going on a daily basis is what ultimately led to her death. Although it was not directly shown in the movie, an autopsy concluded that Garland died at the age of 49 in London due to a Barbiturate overdose, which was not suicide but simply her body giving up. Many fans were shocked by the death of Judy, but it was no surprise that her body could not hold any longer after a life full of drug and substance abuse. 

At the 92nd Academy Awards, Renée Zellweger received the award for Best Actress for her role as Garland in the biopic. In her acceptance speech, she recognized that Garland herself never received the award, so she decided to dedicate it to her. With many praises for the movies, there are some that do not agree with the film. The daughter of Judy Garland, Liza Minelli, who is best known for her role as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, has acknowledged that she will not see the biopic of her mother. Minelli’s only comment on the film is that “I hope [Zellweger] had a good time making it .” 

Although not everyone agrees on whether these films truly represent the cruelty and struggles Garland faced while on this Earth it is an unknown fact that she left a large impact on all who saw her films. The film beautifully showcases how Garland was capable of overcoming many problems while showcasing her talent, despite the tragic circumstances. The film shows that she was able to continue to do what she loved although she might have not always been in the best condition. Judy directed by Rupert Goold tells the tragic but inspirational story of Judy Garland who up to this day still has fans singing the classic song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.