11 April 2001 | Twillhead
No one can capture the true Garland essence, but Tammy Blanchard and Judy Davis come as close as humanly possible, and I'll settle for that. While I'm still conflicted over daughter Lorna's motives for writing the book upon which this film is based (and would Judy have approved??), and knowing there are gaps in the story, I was nonetheless astonished at the total virtuosity of this film. Wisdom prevailed when electing Blanchard and Davis to lip-sync to Judy herself, although this undoubtedly created more of a challenge for the actors portraying her. Both rose to the occasion. Ms. Blanchard's performance is little short of incredible--she captures the young Judy with a brilliance that is exceeded only by the subject herself (the "Oz" sequence is almost spooky). Judy Davis performing "The Trolley Song" is a bit jarring (perhaps Ms. Blanchard exited the film a bit too soon), but as the film moves ahead, the perfection of her casting is obvious. She vocally and physically mimics the great Garland in another "tour-de-force" performance. The supporting cast also shines, in particular John Benjamin Hickey as Roger Edens, Judy's vocal coach, mentor, and dear friend. Mr. Hickey's quiet strength matches that of Mr. Edens, a lovely, warm glow in the background. Even Legends have their anchors--Roger was Judy's for many years, and Mr. Hickey's silent presence in this regard is perfect. Garland fan or not, this is captivating show(man-and-woman)ship of the first order. I repeat . . . "virtuosity". In keeping with the great and wonderful Judy Garland.