Mesmerising Judy Garland film has an important message for us all – Hayley Matthews

Ren�e Zellweger gives a compelling performance as Judy Garland in the new biopic. Picture: PA
Ren�e Zellweger gives a compelling performance as Judy Garland in the new biopic. Picture: PA
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The new film about Judy Garland, as played compellingly by Renée Zellweger, makes Hayley Matthews think about the thousands of men jailed for their sexuality and the homophobia that still blights society today.

Not to step on the toes of the fabulous Liam Rudden, who gives you the latest on the entertainment scene, but I just had to write about how much I loved the Judy Garland movie recently because I can’t stop thinking about it.

Renee Zellweger attends the Australian premiere of Judy in Melbourne, Australia. (Picture: Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

Renee Zellweger attends the Australian premiere of Judy in Melbourne, Australia. (Picture: Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

I can’t stop thinking about how brilliant Judy was, how troubled she was, how fragile she was but also how strong and unique she was too. I’m also still raving to anyone who will listen about how incredible Renée Zellweger is as Judy.

I’m normally up at least twice through any movie for a loo break but was enjoying it so much that I didn’t get up until I could hold it no longer. It doesn’t hook you in by being thrilling, dramatic or even a “fingers on the edge of your seat” kind of movie, it is just mesmerising and blissful.

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Yes, I found the movie that good and that must say something for someone who’s not a massive Judy fan. I mean, I love her songs and respect the fact that she’s one of the greatest performing artists of all time, but I don’t have a poster on my wall nor do I watch the Wizard of Oz every Saturday morning.

Renée Zellweger must have studied Judy so hard – she looked so like her and was just absolutely compelling! I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

Sad, hilarious and awkward

How lovely it was to just sink into another world for a few hours and forget about all the carnage around us. Renée is utterly fabulous in the role and I have to say I could easily watch it again. I loved learning how Judy was funny, sad, hilarious and awkward – everything that makes a creative artist brilliant. It was a very honest watch.

I wouldn’t be spoiling it for anyone by saying that she sings the song that she’s arguably most famous for, and it is just heart-wrenching, leaving even those with a tin heart crying and sobbing out loud.

But for me the most poignant part in the movie was a message of love and acceptance by giving a big nod to many of Judy’s fans who struggled with the prejudices facing gay men in the 1960s.

The movie shows the story of two people in love, one of whom was punished merely for being in love with their soulmate. I know – ridiculous, right? For me, it’s just two people in love, regardless of gender, race, religion etc. I don’t like to label or pigeonhole and look forward to the day that homophobia is a thing of the past.

The movie left me wondering how hard it must have been for same-sex relationships back then and yet even now we still face so much homophobia that it just breaks my heart. To learn that men were jailed back in the 60s purely for being in love and in a relationship with someone of the same sex, is just mind-baffling. Between 1967 and 2003, 30,000 gay and bisexual men were convicted for behaviour that would not have been a crime had their partner been a woman.

I’m glad things have moved on but there’s still a long way to go before we can all be as accepting of each other as we should be. If there is one thing that you can take from this movie, it’s the story of love and how it comes in many shapes and forms and knows no boundaries.

We all deserve to love and be loved and Judy Garland is the epitome of that.