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ROGER THOMAS FILM REVIEW: ‘Judy’ — a tragedy of a truly talented person

By Roger Thomas, for the SNAP

There are lots of stories from Hollywood which tell the tales of lives ending much too early. However, that is not a new thing. For decades, those who find success also sometimes find turmoil.

In some of these situations the individual’s life ends tragically. Success in performance, film, stage or both does not always create peace and happiness. Actually, many times success brings sorrow and tragedy.

Roger Thomas

“Judy” is the bio film of the latter days of the life of Judy Garland. And it is a very well-crafted film of a tragic life of one who in her final days abandoned almost any good thing.

The film begins showing young Judy after she has finished with filming “The Wizard of Oz.” An adult tries to give Judy some wisdom, but she does not seem to want it. After all, she is still a teenager and everyone in America loves Judy. However, the Judy who is in her 40s has a much different perspective of the world.

The audiences who see this film will see just a little of the happy young girl, but will see a lot of the Judy in her 40s. She has many things to make her sad.

Her children are not with her. They live with their father. She is no longer as popular as she once was. She also has addictions. And with all the troubles she has, she still wants to sing and perform. In fact, that is about the only thing that she can still do well.

In that phase of her life, at least as the film portrays it, Judy is struggling with substances and desires. She wants to continue a career and she wants to care for her children. As the film moves along, it is obvious Judy is not capable of doing any of those things, much less all of them.

Of all the aspects of the film, Renee Zellweger’s performance is the greatest asset on the screen. The Academy Awards should just go ahead and give Zellweger her Oscar. This is one of those occasions when the role is just a perfect choice. Zellweger looks just like Judy Garland did in the era of the last days of Garland’s life.

But it is beyond that. As one watches this film, one wonders if anyone else could have done this film. Sometimes a role just finds someone.

Could anyone think of someone else being “Forrest Gump” instead of Tom Hanks? Would anyone capture the role of the mother who had to choose one of her children in “Sophie’s Choice?” Or what about Anthony Hopkins in “The Silence of the Lambs?”

The performance of “Judy” is one of those types of performances. It is a film that is an almost singular performance. One does not want to look at anything else because the star of the film is very bright.

Zellweger was nominated for an “Oscar” in 2002 for a leading role. One year later, she was nominated again for a supporting role. The third time was the charm. Zellweger won Best Supporting Actress in the film “Cold Mountain.”

All of Zellweger’s work is good, but “Judy” is really something special and it happens because of the talent of Zellweger.

Predicting this early while there are still three months of films is not a wise thing. However, if one did want to predict, it might be a good guess that Renee Zellweger will have a good time at the next Oscar ceremony.

Remember, Zellweger will most likely get an Oscar in February 2020 for her tremendous work in 2019.

Roger W. Thomas of Albemarle reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.