The legend behind the rainbow.

Judy is a showcase for Renée Zellweger’s deeply felt and eerily effective performance as Judy Garland in her final months. But it’s also a solid film in its own right. Expanded from Peter Quilter’s play End Of The Rainbow, the film focuses on a series of concerts Garland gave in London in 1968 to try to pay down her debts. Separated from her children in L.A. and unable to sleep, Garland starts boozing and messing up.

Poster for the Judy Garland biopic JudyThings temporarily pick up when the emotionally needy singer is visited by the charismatic Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock). And in one of the film’s most poignant subplots, she forges a touching friendship with an older gay couple who are long-time fans. Director Rupert Goold and screenwriter Tom Edge wisely make us wait a half hour before Garland sings a single note, allowing Zellweger to flesh out Garland’s personality and show us what’s at stake for the performer, both personally and professionally.

Zellweger’s performance goes beyond impersonation to get to the heart of what made Garland so unique. She captures not just the full-throated alto and the marionette-like posture but a sense of vulnerability and an emotional openness.

– Glenn Sumi, NOW Toronto

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