Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

29 October 2019

End of the Rainbow

Judy isn't very good. It's a strange little movie that was clearly made with not very much money. It's also based on a stage play by Peter Quilter called End of the Rainbow, and although the film doesn't feel too stagey (there are plenty of sequences outside, and we move around quite a bit) many of the scenes are overly long, and Judy is a bit more dependent on dialogue than it ought to be.

Still, I found the whole thing really intriguing. Judy is also occasionally quite moving. There's a sequence in act two in which Judy – who is lonely in London – leaves the stage door very late at night to find only two middle-aged gay men waiting for her. She asks them, sheepishly, if they'd like to go get a bite to eat with her, and they're truly beside themselves. They wind up back at their apartment, where the men make her eggs, and they talk about sodomy laws in Britain (which had only just been relaxed in 1969 when the film is set). One of the men sits down to play the piano and Judy sings "Forget your troubles come on get happy, you better chase all your cares away. Shout hallelujah, come on get happy, get ready for the judgment day" in the saddest, most exhausted register, and the whole thing was just too much for me emotionally.

This is the movie at its best. There are also some really excellent musical sequences, where Judy sings in the Talk of the Town night club for a theatre full of delighted patrons. It's hard not to love listening to the fun nostalgia of "The Trolley Song".

Judy is also super weird. Renée Zellweger's Garland is never not interesting to watch. It's just that I've seen Judy in so many movies, and in so many television clips. And Zellweger is not Garland, right? I guess, I sort of forgot every once in a while that she wasn't Judy. It wasn't necessarily bad, and as I say, it's always interesting as a performance, but the whole thing is just a bit strange to sit through ... in an uncanny way.

Still... I liked it. And I sort of loved Zellweger, even though I don't usually like her. I found the whole thing fascinating, even if I'm honest, it's really not that great.

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