Cast: Renee Zellweger, Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufys Sewell, Darci Shaw, Richard Cordery, Bella Ramsey, Lewin Lloyd
Director: Rupert Goold
Renee Zellweger bagged the lead role of Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago along with Catherine Zeta-Jones. The role had been played on the Broadway stage by various talents including Liza Minelli, whose mother Judy Garland is the subject of the sympathetic biopic under review. Zellweger is Judy in Rupert Goold’s adaptation of Peter Quilter’s stage play End of the Rainbow.
The title of the stage play is taken from the anthem of the smash hit The Wizard of Oz but viewers have to wait till the very end of the film to hear Zellweger belt it out. There are scores of cover versions of this beautiful song (come up and hear me sing it sometime) but Zellweger makes it her very own, in a dazzling Oscar-worthy performance.
The film mainly focuses on the last months of the life of the tragic actress/singer when she was broke but Goold intersperses flash backs to key moments in the teenage Judy’s (Darci Shaw) experience working on The Wizard where she was exploited, bullied, starved and pumped with pills by the callous producers, MGM.
Judy would become substance addicted the rest of her short, eventful life in which time she ran through five husbands and struggled to look after her two youngest children, Lorna and Joey (Bella Ramsey and Lewin Lloyd) by her third ex-husband, Sidney Luft (Rufus Sewell) who also has the children’s interests at heart.
Viewers, specially working women (and Judy) don’t miss the irony of having to leave children in order to be able to afford to raise them. Like Rosalyn (Jessie Buckley) her assistant at the Talk of the Town club in London, where she performed to full houses, we see how extraordinary she was, singing brilliantly without a rehearsal.
Rupert Goold and scriptwriter Tom Edge spin a cautionary albeit non-judgemental tale about fame and the celebrity life.
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