Updated: Mar 31, 2020
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
Renée Zellweger stars in the biopic "Judy" as legendary entertainer Judy Garland. For five-weeks in late 1968, she performed a series of concerts at London's Talk of the Town Theater.
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4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy; 2019; PG-13 for substance abuse, thematic content, some strong language, and smoking; Streaming (buy or rent) via Amazon Video/Prime (4K), Apple (4K), FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play (4K), Vudu (4K) YouTube (4K)
Best extra: “From the Heart: The Making of ‘Judy’”
RENÉE ZELLWEGER won the Golden Globe award for Best Actress for “Judy,” directed by Rupert Goold, on Sunday night. It looks like she’ll be nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as well.
Zellweger, who was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress in the musical “Chicago” and won Best Supporting Actress for “Cold Mountain,” thoroughly invested herself in the part. “There were a lot of reasons I wanted to make this picture, to look into the human side of this icon,” she says in “From the Heart: The Making of ‘Judy,’” the main bonus feature on Lionsgate’s presentation. There is also a gallery of images, impressive because of the memorable costumes reproduced for the film.
“There’s a reason why we’re telling her story 50 years after her passing. That combination of spirit and beauty and humility and grace and empathy is so rare.” — Renée Zellweger
The biopic shows Garland in 1968 near the end of her life at 47. Down on her luck, broke, and about to lose custody of her children to her third husband, Sid Luft (Rufus Sewell), she’s taken a job with a nightclub, Talk of the Town in London. Her concerts are sold out, but will she be able to make all the performances? Sadly, no, and we witness her behind-scene and onstage meltdowns.
(1) MGM Studio tycoon Louis B. Mayer tells young Judy Garland (Darci Shaw), "I make movies, but Judy it’s your job to give those people dreams." (2) After performing at a nightclub in Los Angeles for $150 cash, Judy arrives at the Parks Seasons Hotel with her two children Lorna and Joey. She's told by the manager her suite has been released because of non-payment. (3) Ex-husband Sid Luft (Rufus Sewell) tells Judy, "You can’t come knocking on the door at 1 a.m. I want custody during the school year." (4) Judy leaves the children with their father and heads out without a place to stay.
“Judy” shows us the nightmares behind the star through flashbacks of her youth acting in “The Wizard of Oz” and the teen films made with Mickey Rooney (Gus Barry). Scenes between a fragile young Judy, played by Darci Shaw, and the manipulative Louis B. Mayer (Richard Cordery) in old Hollywood are chilling. We see how the progression of drug use, insisted on and provided by the studio, persisted into her adulthood. Treatment and rehabilitation was primitive during Garland’s lifetime; she never really had a chance at recovery. She remained seriously depressed, suicidal, and addicted to drugs throughout her life. Garland begged for help, but never got it.
One of the faults with the film, and the script by Tom Edge based on the stage play “End of the Rainbow” by Peter Quilter, is that we never get to see what made Judy Garland great aside from her love for her children and her heartwarming embrace of gay fandom exemplified by actors Andy Nyman and Daniel Cerqueira at a time in which men and women were imprisoned for being homosexual.
For many, the story will seem more like a compilation of clichés, and that’s a shame. There have been good biopics of late, namely “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Rocketman.” Despite best intentions, “Judy” is not in the same league, and at nearly two hours, the film is a difficult slog through the star’s final months – although the filmmaker’s feel differently:
“Absolutely in all our hearts, [‘Judy’] was a celebration of this woman’s life.” — Rupert Goold
(1&2) Judy ends up at Liza Minnelli's house, her oldest daughter, where a party is still going on. There she meets Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock) who eventually becomes her fifth husband. (3) A flashback scene on an MGM soundstage as Judy has lunch with co-star Mickey Rooney (Gus Barry). She's told not to eat the french fries or a hamburger and given a pill to curb her appetite. (4) Judy tells her kids she's heading to London for a series of concerts and they will stay with their father.
VIDEO & AUDIO
Digitally shot, Lionsgate provides the 4K Ultra HD exclusively on digital platforms, while the physical disc gets the HD version. The HDR toning really shines when Judy is onstage with the super bright spotlights and the high gloss costumes and props. The overall sharpness between the 4K and HD are very similar with slight edge to the 4K, evident by facial detail and wide stage shots composed by Goold and his co-British cinematographer Ole Bratt Birkeland.
Audio is delivered via DTS-HD Master Audio six-channel soundtrack on the Blu-ray, and strangely digital gets the lesser-compressed Dolby Digital track. The onstage audio puts you right into London’s Talk of the Town nightclub as Judy belts out the tunes with an excellent big band backup as the sound reverberates around the room.
Director, producers, and cast speak of how Zellweger transformed herself into Judy Garland, yet for many viewers, it’s a stumble in the spotlight. Zellweger doesn’t look like Garland and doesn’t sound like Garland. The actress earns kudos for doing her own singing; she has a powerful voice, but bad Automated/Additional Dialogue Replacement (ADR) does her no favors.
It’s most noticeable in her opening number, “By Myself.” Our home audience spent more time trying to figure out why the song was so badly dubbed; it jerked us out of the performance. Zellweger actually sang live in one long take with multi-cameras rolling for the first number, but those vocals were pulled and inserted with the studio version during post-production. But by the time we get to the finale and “Over the Rainbow,” Lionsgate gets it in gear with voice and picture synchronized. It creates emotional, heartrending moments that literally save the film.
— Kay Reynolds
(1) The press and fans greet Judy as she arrives at the London hotel. (2) Judy is tired and backouts of doing any rehearsing before her first show. (3&4) Opening night at the Talk of the Town Theater in London.
(1) After a performance, Judy falls into depression and can't sleep. (2) After one of her shows, she goes to the apartment of Dan (Andy Nyman) and Stan (Daniel Cerqueira) a gay couple. Dan plays the song "Get Happy" while Judy sings. (3) Judy during a British TV interview, which questions her about the children.
Judy Garland’s final performance at the Talk of the Town
(1) Theater manager Bernard Delfont (Michael Gambon) and assistant Rosalyn Wilder (Jessie Buckley) are shocked that Judy has hit the stage. A number of her shows had been canceled or stopped with her being drunk on stage. (2&3) The final two songs "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "Over the Rainbow," which she sings from the edge of the stage.