Rating: I feel bad, but I gotta go with my gut and give this a C
Basically: It’s a watered-down, Bohemian Rhapsody-ied La Vie en Rose. Also, the “comeback” of Renee Zellweger.
Summary: The last few performances of the legendary Judy Garland.
Really, what I mean by that is that I wanted more from this movie- I wanted it to be better. I could have used a little more glam contrasted with more grit, a little more song, a little more dance. Some of the scenes almost got there but then tiptoed away before the moments were able to settle in.
I mean, Garland’s life was pretty dark. As a child actress, she was heavily controlled which led to some bad habits and behavior later on. I don’t think we need to see everything, it’s more about the manner it’s told in- here’s a flashback, here’s how that correlates to Judy’s adult life. It’s a little too straightforward, which is a shame because I think there is enough room for the themes (or at least Garland’s undying love for her children) to carry from scene to scene. I think more focus on Garland’s idea of adolescence and subsequent protection of her own children would have been a bit more powerful.
And this is where I want to bring in La Vie en Rose. Aside from a stunning performance and really capturing the essence of Edith Piaf, La Vie en Rose did such an excellent job of bringing Piaf’s life full circle and using the music to underscore the emotions of the scene. It’s a film that evokes self-reflection and I went from not knowing who Piaf was to now being a huge fan of her work. I can’t say that Judy did the same for me.
And finally, performance. I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest Renee Zellweger fan- but I did love her in Chicago, which had a starved, desperate attempt for fame that I thought might translate over here. And I’ve heard that there’s not a whole lot of Judy Garland in Jus, but that Zellweger tried to capture the essence- admirable, but it felt a little hammy. Music numbers are great though- Zellweger balances the decline of Garland’s life, while capturing the glimmers of her brilliance. This will undoubtedly get Zellweger a few nominations- but I’ll be sad if she scores one over a few other brilliant performances from earlier this year.