wed 19/06/2024

CD: Renée Zellweger - Judy | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Renée Zellweger - Judy

CD: Renée Zellweger - Judy

The film star does a fine job interpreting a host of Garland classics

Looking for a land that she heard of once in a lullaby

Renée Zellweger already has strong musical cinema form, Her role as Roxie Hart in Chicago garnered her second Oscar nomination. However, playing and singing Judy Garland is a whole different ball game.

The film Judy takes a late-Sixties run of London dates as the prism through which to view the Hollywood star at the end of her life, focusing on both the triumphs and the damage wrought by her celebrity rollercoaster career. The soundtrack, on the other hand, doesn't often intimate those highs and lows so much as capture her hyper-jolly, go-get-‘em film persona.

Zellweger inhabits the vocal role impressively. On her sultry rendition of the standard “You Made Me Love You” she convincingly channels a recognizable version of Garland, especially when the music drops out and she archly makes a meal of the phrase, “The very mention of your name sends my heart reeling.” By the nature of Garland’s music, there’s a hefty dose of syrup, but songs such as “By Myself” and "The Man That Got Away” combine the easy listening swing of the mid-Fifties with something heartfelt inside.

That said, much of the album represents Zellweger ripping through peppy froth such as “The Trolley Song”, Garland’s hit moment from the smash 1944 musical “Meet Me in St Louis”, or the sappy “Zing Went the Strings of my Heart”. Rufus Wainwright and Sam Smith add to the light cabaret atmosphere, lending duet support to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Get Happy”, respectively, but this is very much Zellweger’s album (excepting a zippy Latin-flavoured burlesque jazz instrumental honouring the Talk of the Town club where Garland performed).

Ultimately, Renée Zellweger nails it and, if the film is well-calibrated, this sassy music will colour its emotional impact, but surely, after watching it, most will wish to dig out the Garland originals, especially of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”? Then again, the successful careers of multitudes who’ve endlessly tackled and retackled the great American songbook suggest many well find much to enjoy here too.

Below: Watch the trailer for Judy featuring Renée Zellweger

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