As unlikely as it may seem for some, all stars eventually fade and burn out, even stars so big they could light up the entire night sky. Judy Garland was one such star, quite possibly the most famous movie actress of all time, and her newest biopic, “Judy,” shows the melancholy twilight of her career, and her struggle between finding her purpose now that she’s lost her star power and finding herself now that she’s just Judy Garland instead of “Starring Judy Garland.” The battle between the actress and the person is difficult to watch yet oddly optimistic as the film demonizes the way Hollywood actors and actresses were treated in the 1930s, while watching Judy come alive as a person despite losing her childhood.
While Renee Zellweger plays Judy Garland, and she practically disappears in the role, her performance is less than inspiring, lacking any real nuance or flavor. She never fully captures the same energy as Judy Garland, coming across as someone playing karaoke versions of Garland’s most iconic songs instead of Judy belting out for her audience one last time. The only time Zellweger nails the gravitas is during the final musical number and can hardly get the words out, knowing that this is how it all ends. I wish I could say that Zellweger brought us the aging Judy Garland we never really saw, but most of the time it feels like an off-Broadway attempt to mimic Judy.
Overall, “Judy” is a rather unremarkable biopic, certainly not helped by Zellweger’s less than enthusiastic performance. The pace is slow, many scenes felt like padding, especially Judy meeting with some fans, and it chooses to go out with a whimper rather than a bang.
Final Grade: C-