An outstanding performance by Renee Zellweger as the ageing Judy Garland led to her thoroughly deserved Oscar for Best Actress in this year’s Oscars. Judy Garland is at the end of her career during a 1969 concert run in London. So convincing, it felt like it was Garland herself, Zellweger captures the frayed edges of a voice that has taken a lifetime of punishment; the girlish ragdoll fling of arms and legs of a woman whose public never quite forgave her for growing up. And the humour: Garland’s wisecracks are delivered with a trouper’s comic timing. But most of all, she nails the performance aspect.
There’s a stunning moment when Garland, hollowed out by exhaustion and paralysed by doubt, is forced on to the stage for the first of the London shows. She starts to sing, tentatively at first. But then the orchestra kicks in and her eyes snap open and suddenly a triumphant full wattage Judy Garland blast of charisma takes over. Backstage afterwards, she’s crumpled and round-shouldered and smeared with tears. “What if I can’t do it again?” It’s undoubtedly Zellweger’s film. Flashbacks to Judy’s early years give a sense of the damage done to the studio’s most valuable asset. The film captivates; it grabs you by the heart and demands adoration. And in a film about Judy Garland, you would expect nothing less.
81% – Rotten Tomatoes
“Judy … is happy to let [Renée] Zellweger take centre stage. Thank god, because it’s the performance of a lifetime.”
“It’s a film that is just designed around thing specifically: showcasing Renée Zellweger’s incredible performance as Judy Garland.”