This has been rocketing around social media all day, to gasps of delight and praise:
Before we get to our usual bitching and moaning, Deadline has the deets:
“Set in winter 1968, the story takes place 30 years after Garland played the iconic role of Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz. When she arrives in Swinging London to prepare for a sell-out run at The Talk of the Town, she battles with management, charms musicians and reminisces with friends and adoring fans. Even her dreams of romance seem undimmed as she embarks on a courtship with Mickey Deans, her soon to be fifth husband. And yet Garland is fragile. After working for 45 of her 47 years, she is exhausted; haunted by memories of a childhood lost to Hollywood and gripped by a desire to be back home with her kids. The film will feature some of Garland’s best-known songs, including “Over The Rainbow”. Zellweger notably showed off her singing ability in 2002 musical Chicago, for which she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar.”
That all sounds great on paper, including the part where Rene Zellweger plays her. We realize she doesn’t exactly embody Judy Garland’s physicality, but she’s an intense actress who isn’t afraid to go to dark and ugly places in her performances, which makes her particularly well suited to play this part. We’re not entirely sure we trust that she can pull off Garland-level singing performances, but we’re willing to be convinced on that front.
We think the reason so many people are singing the praises of this photo and claiming it eerily mimics the real Judy is because they’re surprised at how close Zellwegger is coming to it; closer than most people probably expected.
And while we think it’s admirable Judy Drag, our problem is that it’s Judy circa 1962 drag; not Judy at the end of her life. To put it bluntly, she was a physical wreck of a person in her last months; devastated and depleted by a lifetime of abuse and addiction, looking decades older than her 47 years. Miles from this smooth-skinned, long-necked vision of glamour we see above. We don’t necessarily care about any actor’s physical resemblance to whomever they’re playing in a biopic, so long as the performance gets to the heart of who the person was. But a healthy-looking, glamorous version of Judy Garland is not being true to who she was at the end of her life. It’s like casting a fit forty-something with visible abs as Elvis in his final years. This is just a promo shot and we have no doubt they’ll rough her up for the final scenes of the film, but we’re not quite as impressed as others seem to be with this first look. Fabulous dress, though.
What do you guys think?
[Photo Credit: Pathe/BBC Films]