Judy: A Summary and Film Review

When you hear the name Judy Garland, most think of the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz.” The singer and actress is undoubtedly most well known for her breakout role in that film, however the movie “Judy” takes a look at the actress much later in life. This film gives another interesting take on the music themed biopic genre we’ve been seeing a lot of in the past few years. I will be discussing the story of this film and then giving my opinion on the content. 

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The film begins in 1969 as Judy and her two youngest children prepare to take the stage for a less than lucrative performance, after which she and her kids are turned away from the hotel they had been staying in due to a lack of funds. This sets the stage for the plot of the film: Judy takes her children to the home of her ex-husband and goes to try and find a place to stay until she can get more jobs and earn more money. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy as she has gained a reputation of being unreliable due to the affects of her addictive habits. 

Eventually, Judy gives in to her previous reservations about leaving and travels to London, without her children, to hopefully regain her status and some funds. While in London it becomes more evident that Judy is hopelessly dependent on the effects of alcohol, cigarettes, and the pills she had become reliant upon since her start in the industry. These addictions negatively impact Judy in her performances in London.

We see Judy struggling over and over throughout the movie but it ends in a touching way. Judy is overwhelmed with emotion as she begins singing the iconic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” song and is unable to finish singing. The crowd, who had previously been so harsh to the struggling star, takes it upon themselves to help her out. She is joined by a chorus of the audience singing and showing their support for her through this tough moment in her life.

Via Giphy

The film was definitely not one that was meant as a feel-good movie in the slightest. Nonetheless, I left with a new appreciation and understanding, not only for Judy Garland, but for others struggling in similar ways. Sprinkled throughout the film, there were flashbacks to Judy’s youth. In these scenes we get a look into what it was that led Judy to this point in her life. The pressures that were pressed so harshly upon her as a young woman by her mother, society, and the producers of her works, were so incredibly restricting, damaging, and habit inducing,that it's no wonder she struggled in the ways she did later in life.

The style of the film was less of a musical in the ways that “Rocketman” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” seemed to be, but it definitely had lots of Judy Garland Classics sung throughout. I found myself thinking the film to be similar to the 2011 film “My Week With Marilyn,” a biopic that showed a glimpse into the life of starlet Marilyn Monroe. The similar struggles these women faced is an obvious similarity, but the content seemed to be remenicant as well. 

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Overall I really enjoyed the film. If you enjoy watching biopics and the songs that brought Judy Garland into the limelight I think you will too. Renée Zellweger played Garland with skill, from the way she sang to Judy’s mannerisms and even her smile. The casting and content was great in my opinion. As long as you aren’t going into the movie in hopes for an upbeat, feelgood movie, you shouldn’t be let down in the slightest.