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Rupert Goold
Renee zellweger, Rufus Sewell, Jessie Buckley
Writing Credits:
Tom Edge

Legendary performer Judy Garland arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 119 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 12/24/2019

• “From the Heart” Featurette
• Gallery
• Trailer & Previews
• DVD Copy


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Judy [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 17, 2019)

After a busy acting career in the 90s and 00s, Renee Zellweger went fairly dormant through much of the 10s. As a commercial project, she returned with 2016’s Bridget Jones’ Baby, and she takes on a “prestige” film via 2019’s Judy.

A biographical look at entertainer Judy Garland, the film concentrates on her later life. In winter 1968, Garland (Zellweger) heads to London to perform a series of sold-out concerts.

These shows act as the framework to examine Garland’s life, as we view parts of her past as well as her then-present. As she works through her concerts, Garland conflicts with management and her ex-husband Sid Luft (Rufus Sewell). She also romances Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock), a much younger man destined to become her fifth husband, and she copes with drug addiction.

In addition, we find occasional flashbacks to teen Judy (Darci Shaw). During the shoot of 1939’s Wizard of Oz, Judy finds herself under a mix of pressures, and these continue in her early career.

As I mentioned earlier, Judy gave off a significant “Oscar-bait” feel when it hit screens in fall 2019. Combine Zellweger’s “comeback” with dramatic material and trophies looked destined to arrive.

Perhaps they still will, but Judy got a reception that made this less inevitable. Actually, it took in good reviews, but it fizzled at the box office.

I’d guess Zellweger will earn an acting nomination and that will be that. The film just didn’t make enough of a mark for it to muster additional awards.

I can’t call this a tragedy, as I don’t find a lot about Judy to stand out as memorable. While wholly watchable, it offers fairly standard biopic fare.

When the film works, it does so mainly due to Zellweger. At times she threatens to overact, but I suspect her apparent vamping remains true to the real Garland.

Given her drug use, personal issues and long span as an icon, Garland likely behaved in the diva-ish ways seen here. Zellweger occasionally relies on the over-the-top side a little too much, but she also manages to ground Garland when necessary.

Unfortunately, the filmmakers don’t really cobble together much of a movie to surround Zellweger’s performance. The film relies so heavily on all of Judy’s ups and downs that it doesn’t bother with much beyond that.

This leaves Judy as somewhat episodic and unfocused. Granted, some of this becomes inevitable, but I still feel like the end result becomes more preoccupied with scenes and less interested in a coherent narrative.

I do like the movie’s basic emphasis on Judy’s later days, as I prefer biographies that maintain a tight focus. Too many try to cover so much territory that they become little more than “greatest hits” reels.

Given that it sticks mainly with one short span, Judy comes with the ability to dig into this important time frame with reasonable depth – in theory, at least. In reality, the film doesn’t take advantage of this potential as well as it should, as the basic lack of cinematic focus neuters the material.

In addition, the flashbacks to Judy’s youth can turn into a distraction. These scenes basically exist as blunt exposition, for they set up the root of Older Judy’s problems.

Judy could’ve handled this information in a less obvious, clunky manner. The Young Judy scenes pop up solely to tell us “Here’s Why Adult Judy’s a Mess” in big, flashing lights. Yes, this material offers insight, but the scenes don’t integrate well.

Zellweger ensures that all of this remains moderately compelling. Judy just seems too superficial and erratic to hit a home run, though.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D

Judy appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with solid visuals.

Sharpness maintained a high caliber of clarity. Interiors occasionally looked slightly mushy, but the majority of the flick seemed well-defined. I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and both edge haloes and print flaws also failed to appear.

Can’t Hollywood at least avoid teal and orange for period biopics? Apparently not, as those tones dominated the film’s palette. Despite the tedious nature of those choices, the colors looked well-represented for what they were.

Blacks seemed dark and deep, while low-light shots offered appealing delineation. This turned into a more than satisfactory image.

Though not as memorable, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked fine for the material at hand. Music dominated and used the various speakers well. These elements came to the fore during concert segments, and those offered the movie’s most involving sonic segments.

Effects got less to do and usually offered general ambience. That left us without much in terms of auditory fireworks, but given the story’s character focus, this made sense.

Overall audio quality seemed good, and speech was natural and concise. Music sounded peppy and full, while effects seemed acceptable.

As mentioned earlier, those elements lacked much to stand out from the crowd, but they appeared accurate enough. This all added up to a “B-“ soundtrack.

Only minor extras appear here, and From the Heart runs four minutes, five seconds. It presents comments from director Rupert Goold, producer’s assistant Rosalind Wilder, producer David Livingstone, screenwriter Tom Edge, and actors Renee Zellweger, Darcy Shaw, Finn Wittrock, Jessie Buckley, Royce Pierreson and Rufus Sewell.

“Heart” covers story, character and performance subjects. Wholly promotional in nature, few insights emerge.

An Image Gallery provides 13 elements that mix production photos, pictures from the film and ads. It’s a forgettable collection.

The disc opens with ads for Juliet, Naked, Peanut Butter Falcon, Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love, and Whitney. We also find a trailer for Judy.

A second disc presents a DVD copy of Judy. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

Due to a strong lead turn from Renee Zellweger, Judy becomes a wholly watchable biography. However, the movie tends to favor melodrama and obvious plot points without much nuance or insight. The Blu-ray brings very good picture as well as acceptable audio and insubstantial bonus materials. Judy offers an erratic cinematic experience.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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