Renee Zellweger’s Judy Reviews Are In, Is This The Start Of A Renee-ssance?

Renee Zellweger and Finn Wittrock as Judy Garland and Mickey Deans in Judy
(Image credit: (BBC Films))

There’s nothing like a good comeback. After a six-year hiatus from the Hollywood spotlight, Renée Zellweger has slowly made her way back into public conversation with Bridget Jones’s Baby and Netflix series What/If. Now it sounds like Oscar Best Actress whispers have now begun for her in her latest dramatic performance as Judy Garland in Rupert Goold’s Judy.

Judy recently premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, ahead of more eyeballs taking a look at the Toronto International Film Festival alongside other award contenders such as Joker, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood and Ford v Ferrari. Well, how’d Renée do? Is this the beginning of a Renée-ssance? Let’s start with Eric Kohn’s review on IndieWire. Here are his thoughts:

Zellweger inhabits the role of the jaded, soul-searching musical icon reasonably well within a dreary and unremarkable saga that finds her grappling with her past, contending with pill-popping addictions and a broken family. It’s a familiar story that Judy struggles to freshen up, at least until Zellweger takes the mic.

Judy follows the starlet during the last year of her life when she’s broke, dealing with an alcohol and drug addiction, and has lost custody of her children. The reviewer found the story of the biopic to paint a tiring tale of the business's brightest stars. However, he applauded Zellweger’s performance, particular where she sings – but warns it takes 40 minutes before she sings a tune.

Variety’s Guy Lodge enjoyed Judy particularly for the meeting-in-the-middle of Garland’s memorable way about her and Zellweger’s infectious performance. In his words:

It feels as if there’s as much of Zellweger — her distinctive, endearing expressions and mannerisms — in this study as there is of Garland, it’s because Judy appears to seek authenticity through empathy rather than mere imitation.

Sometimes it can feel as if biopics focus so much on encompassing the real-life characters that there isn’t much room for the actors to play with. Judy allows Renée to shine as the former Wizard of Oz actress. The Wrap’s Sasha Stone calls the film “easily the best performance of Zellweger’s career,” continuing with these details:

In Judy, she gets to the core of Garland with a raw intensity of a woman in a spiral. Zellweger’s Judy seems to move through the film in a kind of trance, due in large part to the drugs and the booze, but also as someone who was chewed up and spit out by the Hollywood machine since her adolescence.

Sasha Stone admits Judy primarily has Zellweger’s performance going for it above all else, but it’s more than enough for the actress to become an Oscar contender. Moving to Vanity Fair’s K. Austin Collins review, he quips that the actress “zooms over the rainbow.” Here’s what else he said:

I admire Zellweger’s performance most of all for risking outright broadness, even badness, to chip away at the truths of the star’s persona. Frankly, it’s a performance that threatens to fly free of the movie enclosing it, which is well-made but not nearly as compulsively odd as its star.

It sounds like Renée Zellweger in Judy on its own makes it a worthwhile release! The movie is an adaptation of the stage play “End of the Rainbow,” set in 1968 where the actress retreats to London for a sold-out five week run amidst a public downfall in the states. To finish out this round-up, take a look at Peter Bradshaw’s from his three-star Guardian review:

We get the usual sobering biographical grace notes over the final credits, although not the traditional black-and-white photos of the real-life people, perhaps because Judy Garland is just too well known. The film sugarcoats Garland’s physical deterioration, her addictions, her wretchedness and her mortality. However, paradoxically, it’s the most relaxed and personal performance we have seen from Zellweger in a while.

Overall, Judy has a solid start with critics thanks to Renée Zellweger’s superb performance. Rotten Tomatoes has awarded the film with an 88% score thus far. You can check out Judy coming to theaters on September 27.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.