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Zellweger shines, but storyline has too many blind spots
I caught this film at this year's TIFF, and can confirm the raves for Renee Zellweger's performance as Judy Garland -- it definitely is one of the year's best. But I had problems with the film overall. There's just too much left out to make for a legitimate biopic.
The biggest omission: daughter Liza Minelli. At the time depicted in this movie, she was 23, already making movies, and on a career trajectory that would result in an Oscar three years later (before her career admittedly went off a cliff). But here she pretty much doesn't exist - only Garland's two later children do.
And when you reflect upon it, there's a lot more missing in this film. It also treats the period between Garland's Wizard of Oz/Andy Hardy MGM days and her final gig doing a London stage show in 1969 as a big blank, even though there were successes along the way well into the 60's, including two Oscar nominations and a Grammy award for Album of the Year. (Also a short-lived television show where she did a memorable duet with a 21-year-old Barbara Streisand.) Considering the range of celebrities she worked with, the opportunities for quality namedropping are limitless - but aside from Mickey Rooney, there's a pronounced lack of it
There are problems with inclusion as well. In real life, Garland had so many gay admirers that she gave rise to the "FOD" (Friends of Dorothy) acronym as slang for gays. In the movie, this angle is treated in very shorthand fashion by two completely fictional gay admirers of her London shows.
The film reminded me a lot of JACKIE from 2016, where Natalie Portman played Jackie Kennedy. Her performance was certainly Oscar-worthy -- and she did get nominated - but I had problems with the presentation, particularly how Kennedy's funeral was depicted as a national day of mourning. Zellweger is similarly a nomination lock riding in a flawed vehicle.
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