Winter 1968 and showbiz legend Judy Garland arrives in Swinging London to perform a five-week sold-out run at The Talk of the Town. It is 30 years since she shot to global stardom in The Wizard of Oz, but if her voice has weakened, its dramatic intensity has only grown. As she prepares for the show, battles with management, charms musicians and reminisces with friends and adoring fans, her wit and warmth shine through. Even her dreams of love seem undimmed as she embarks on a whirlwind romance with Mickey Deans, her soon-to-be fifth husband. Featuring some of her best-known songs, the film celebrates the voice, the capacity for love, and the sheer pizzazz of “the world’s greatest entertainer.”
We’re starting to feel a little weird about this. This will be our third post decrying this film and we feel like we’re falling into the stereotypical trap of being a couple of gays getting all worked up over Judy. To paraphrase a far more appropriate diva for us: “Gays. For Judy. Groundbreaking.” It’s just that the marketing for this film keeps doling out bits and pieces, each of which seem designed to garner a social media response. And each little bit and piece unfortunately makes the film look worse and worse to us. For the record, we have no real passion for Judy and don’t feel particularly protective of her, but since there hasn’t yet been a major motion picture about her life, we’d hoped a good old-fashioned Oscar-bait biopic with a big splashy star in the title role would be … better than this looks. We really wanted to believe the Zellweger casting, but with this trailer, we’re afraid we’re ready to say it’s a mistake. She simply looks and sounds like Renee Zellweger, down to the extremely un-Judy squinting and lip-pursing. The hair, makeup and costumes are all dead-on. She’s doing her best to work her way through most of the Judy tics and mannerisms, but it’s just not working. We don’t think an actor has to look exactly like the person they’re portraying, no matter how iconic they may be, but the performance has to reach some level of truthfulness for it to work and we’re afraid the casting here is fatally wrong.
We promise we’ll shut up about it now.
[Photo Credit: David Hindley Courtesy of LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions – Stills: Tom and Lorenzo via RoadsideFlix – Video Credit: RoadsideFlix via YouTube.com]