Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for Rupert Goold’s film about Hollywood star Judy Garland.
The Independent: **** “The film is smart, at least, to complicate Garland’s relationship with fame. She can yearn for a normal life, but there’s little hope she can ever escape her impulse to perform – it’s been nurtured in her ever since she first stepped out on a stage at two years old.”
The Metro: **** “Goold is a theatre director but his first major foray into the big screen doesn’t feel like it, using simple shot and gorgeous costuming to create a film that feels at once raw and yet magical when Judy steps on stage.”
Empire: *** “For, despite an imposing performance by Renée Zellweger, Judy never exposes the dark heart of Garland’s last years, creating an enjoyable backstage drama movie while failing to get under its protagonist’s skin.”
Irish Times: *** “Judy is adapted by screenwriter Tom Edge from Peter Quilter’s stage play End of the Rainbow, and is directed by Rupert Goold and concerns her last British tour. Those theatrical origins tell in the smallness of the film’s world.”
The Guardian: *** “Zellweger gives us a tribute to Judy Garland’s flair and to that ethos of the show needing to go on being both a burden and driving force. Yet Garland’s terrible sadness is mostly invisible.”
Rogerebert.com: ** “Although the fascination with her twilight days may only feed the mythology around her death, this move to explain what drove her to an early grave at 47 is the film’s most humanistic touch. I wish that humanism had extended to the rest of the film.”
Variety: “A climactic performance of “Over the Rainbow” is superbly played by Zellweger as part stream-of-consciousness confessional, part return-to-innocence reset; rarely since its original “Wizard of Oz” incarnation has the old chestnut been so stirringly used on screen.”
Rolling Stone: *** 1/2 “Judy, the well-meaning but wobbly biopic that can barely contain her take on the late Star Is Born star, is pure Oscarbait — ready made for an Academy campaign and rarely soaring to the level of a portrayal that’s a dazzling, deeply felt tribute from one artist to another. But you’ll want to see this for Zellweger’s bravura turn alone. It’s one of the best performances of the year.”
The Wrap: “the Judy Garland that the film, and Zellweger in particular, give us is a fighter and a lover, a woman who wants to do right by her family and who believes that great opportunities still lie ahead. Garland would, tragically, die six months after the events of the film, but as “Judy” reminds us, she went down swinging.”
The Upcoming: *** “Judy doesn’t add anything new to the Judy Garland myth, but it rehearses the star’s woebegone existence with affection and aplomb. A sequence where Judy connects with a couple of gay superfans (Andy Nyman and Daniel Cerqueira) is heavy-handed but ultimately provides the film with its most convincing moments. It’s in its flights of imagination, not its close imitation of life, that the picture moves.”
The Telegraph: *** “Staging a comeback of her own, Zellweger rises smartly to the occasion. Perhaps there’s a few too many of those tight little Bridget Jones moues she’s fond of, rather than Garland’s open-mouthed, throaty lushness, but her particular stamp on this role makes more and more sense as the film goes on.”
Entertainment Weekly: “It’s clumsily effective in showing why Garland grew up with a hole she spent decades filling with pills and husbands (altogether, there were five), but it feels unnecessary, too. The best scenes in Judy are the small ones that happen off the stage (especially one sweet sequence in which she spontaneously spends an evening with two awestruck fans), and the big ones on it, belting out the songs that made Mayer — and the rest of the world — stop and listen.”
The Mirror: *** “Delivering a finely wrought portrayal of the troubled star, Zellweger is a charming, prickly and flirtatious figure, who weathers Garland’s dry wit with a lifetimes experience of disappointment and exploitation.”
The Times: **** “The formula is familiar. A glamorous yet emotionally fraught Hollywood film star, probably an icon, possibly ageing, is taken out of Tinseltown, plonked into the punishing grey environs of rain-lashed Blighty and is here transformed, via lonely introspection and significant encounters with eccentric locals, into a more decent, honest and stable person. Think My Week with Marilyn, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, or even the recent Stan and Ollie. This new Judy Garland biopic, from BBC Films, follows the formula to the letter, which is to say that it boasts a satisfying dramatic structure, a nice supporting cast and the alluring idea that the deep wells of British culture can produce a purifying tonic for the shallow realities of Hollywood life.”
Judy is out now in cinemas.