As entertainment legend Judy Garland (The Wizard of Oz), Renee Zellweger delivers a performance likely to capture an Oscar nomination in Judy. The film itself, however, does not quite live up to Zellweger's performance.
Directed by Rupert Goold, the movie mostly follows Garland in her later years. Bankrupt in America, she agrees to travel to London to perform a set of more lucrative shows. But in doing so, she must leave her young children with her ex-husband (Rufus Sewell). Garland also struggles from pill abuse, heavy drinking, and anxiety.
Zellweger does a strong job of making Garland flawed and troubled without seeming cartoonish or over-the-top. It feels like a real performance, and not just an impersonation. She does well with the singing, too, including a stirring climactic rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".
Narratively, the film fails to gain much momentum, though. Zellweger's performance is excellent, but many of the individual scenes are simply serviceable. A subplot involving Garland's final marriage to a younger man (Finn Wittrock) fails to generate much heat or emotional impact. Exceptions to the above are a few flashback scenes depicting the insane demands placed upon Garland by studio chief Louis B. Mayer.
For Garland fans, Zellweger's performance alone will be worth the price of admission. For others, the movie will be a mixed bag.