Recreation of the Epoch as well at the Star Bio…
For the past eighty years, generations of Americans have grown up knowing the face of Judy Garland as the young Dorothy Gale in Victor Flemmings’ classic fantasy film “The Wizard of Oz.” Few, however, know the story of the actress after the cameras went off, after she tapped those ruby slippers together, returned home, and the credits rolled on her happy Kansas prairie ending.
English director Rupert Goold is finally shedding light on the actress’ career after “The Wizard of Oz” in his new biopic, “Judy.” Goold is best known for his work in theater—for which he has many more directorial credits than he does in film—and therefore, “Judy” is employing a certain theatricality to it, focusing on Garland’s life less as an actress, but more as an singer at London’s famous Talk of the Town nightclub.
The movie will be a period piece just as much as it will be a biopic, taking place in the late sixties, a flashy, spectacle of a time for London’s entertainment industry. Thematically, the movie looks like it will spend lots of time dealing with nostalgia, being a retro-story in its own right about the sixties while also focusing on Garland a full generation after “Oz” put her in the spotlight.
Helping create this nostalgic energy is production designer Kave Quinn of “Trainspotting” and “Woman in Black,” and costume designer Jany Temime of “Skyfall” and the Harry Potter franchise. Evidently, the movie’s aesthetics are in good hands.
Total transformation to play the historic icon
In front of the camera, Academy Award winning actress Renèe Zellweger is playing the title character. The aged version of Garland featured in the movie is long past her prime. At the film’s point in her life, she has been married four times and she is trying to re-enter the spotlight for the sake of making enough money to stay with her children. The film’s 1968 setting also corresponds with the year before the actress died of a drug overdose. It is unclear whether or not the narrative will actually include the main character’s death, but regardless, it seems promising that given the timeline, it will not offer the most innocent portrait of Judy Garland.
Thankfully, Zellweger’s life and career is not as dark or intense as Garland’s was towards the end. Nevertheless, there is something fitting about this casting decision. It would be unfair to say that Zellweger’s career has gone downhill in recent years, but she certainly had a youthful peak in the late nineties and early two-thousands. The actress made a name for herself in 1996’s “Jerry McGuire” and in 2002 and 2003 respectively, the Academy nominated her for Best Actress for her performances in “Brigit Jones’ Diary” and “Chicago.” She then won Best Supporting Actress in 2004 for “Cold Mountain.”
Since then, she has done respectable and consistent work. But while her public image has successfully avoided any pitfalls, Zellweger has not really been talked about all that much in the present decade. She went from an up-and-coming star to just another working actress in the business. Maybe “Judy” will offer her a comeback. Either way, her current situation kind of makes her a perfect fit for playing an older Garland trying to bounce back after the height of her career.
In a current market where Freddy Mercury, Elton John, and Mötley Crüe are getting their own movies, Judy Garland is perhaps not the most expected subject for the next musical-themed biopic. However, it follows suit to a decent degree, and for fans of classical-era Hollywood or the bygone genre of show tune music, “Judy” may be a more appealing picture than any of these rock-and-roll flicks.
The movie may not exactly draw in young people at first, but audiences will naturally follow quality, so if the film is up to snuff, then it may introduce Garland to a whole new generation as more than just the blue-dressed girl from Kansas, but as a star who truly went over the rainbow, and crash-landed just south of the pot of gold.
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