Anchored by a note-perfect performance from Oscar winner Renée Zellweger, this heart-rending adaptation of Peter Quilter’s stage play End of the Rainbow presents an intimate portrait of the great Judy Garland in the final year of her life.
Judy was raised on film sets and nearly every aspect of her life—from what she could eat to who she could date to what drugs she should take—was dictated by MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer. She became a wondrously gifted movie star who never learned to take care of herself.
As Judy begins, the child star of The Wizard of Oz and ingenue of A Star is Born is now middle-aged, homeless, broke, embroiled in a custody battle and all but blacklisted in Hollywood. In a bid to regain some control of her career, she accepts a residency at a London theatre. She refuses to rehearse and, crippled by anxiety, insomnia, and alcoholism, can barely make it to the stage opening night. But once there, in the spotlight, before an eager audience, microphone in hand and a crackerjack band at the ready, she is suddenly at home. And it is magic.
Directed by Rupert Goold, Judy tracks those rollercoaster months in England, the onstage triumphs and catastrophes, the whirlwind marriage to the opportunistic Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock) and the touching friendship with a gay couple who adore her.
Featuring a career-defining turn for Zellweger (herself no stranger to the cruelties of Hollywood scrutiny), Judy showcases some of the star’s most iconic songs like you have never experienced them before: the cheery, bright show tunes that she performed until the end reveal a pensiveness and melancholy here, asking you to consider the life lived behind the smile.
“Zellweger knocks it out of the park, lighting up this punchy and moving late-life biopic with big-hearted, big-voiced panache.” (Kate Stables, Total Film)
“Although Judy doesn’t adhere rigorously to the chronology of the main character’s last months, it provides a compelling portrait of the tragic decline of one of America’s 20th century icons.” (James Berardinelli, Reel Views)
“What’s most appealing about Zellweger’s portrayal is the brightness that peeps out from the clouds: her deep love for her children, her sly wit.” (Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times)