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Posts Tagged ‘Jessie Buckley’

Rene Zellweger as Judy Garland

“JUDY” My rating: B

118 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

One of the biggest thrills in moviegoing is seeing a familiar performer sink so completely into a character that you forget who  you’re watching.

That’s the case with Rene Zellweger’s portrayal of Judy Garland in “Judy.”  Bet she’s already cleared space on the mantel for another Oscar.

Scripted by Tom Edge and directed by Ruper Goold, “Judy” is a film whose flaws are more than compensated for by a monumental performance.

Set in 1969, the last year of Garland’s life, when she was persona non grata in Hollywood and had to travel to London to get a nightclub gig, the film has some rough spots, particularly in its depiction of a once-great talent circling the drain. It’s pretty depressing stuff.

But Zellweger’s portrayal lifts the entire enterprise. She not only looks like the 47-year-old, drug-worn Garland, but she channels the star’s eccentric body language. And she sings Garland’s songs — not as well as Garland did, but enough to wow moviegoers. (It helps that by this time in her career Garland’s power was more in her unique delivery than vocal strength.)

We meet Judy and her two young children returning to L.A. from a tour playing clubs in the South. It’s not a happy homecoming — they’re evicted from their hotel for back rent, and Judy’s ex, agent Sid Luft (Rupert Sewell) says that while he’ll take in the kids, he’s also going to sue for custody.

The only way to get enough cash to make her case in court is for Judy to take a gig in London, performing at a club run by a no-nonsense promoter (Michael Gambon); wise to his star’s reputation for temperamental meltdowns, he assigns a handler (“Wild Roses'” Jessie Buckley) to coax, cajole and physically push the quaking singer out onto the stage.

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Jessie Buckley

“WILD ROSE” My rating: B

101 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The struggling young artist with an impossible musical dream has been a movie staple since the advent of sound.

Tom Harper’s “Wild Rose” recycles many of the usual tropes before putting a distinctive spin on the genre; above all else this Scottish film heralds the arrival of Jessie Buckley as a major talent.

We’ve seen the Irish-born Buckley before. In 2013’s “Beast” she played a withdrawn girl who falls for a boy who may be a serial killer; she was terrific but the movie was too much of a downer to create much buzz.

This is not the case with “Wild Rose.”

We meet Buckley’s Rose-Lynn on her last day in prison on a drug conviction. Outfitted with an ankle monitor (which she hides inside a pair of white cowboy boots) she returns to the two young children she left behind — though not before a quick shag in the park with her ex and a visit to Glasgow’s version of the Grand Ole Opry, a country music emporium that was once her home base.

The homecoming is strained. Her son and daughter have all but forgotten her and her mother (the great Julie Waters), who has been caring for them in Rose-Lynn’s absence, is more than a little dubious of her errant daughter’s commitment to responsibility.

Here’s the thing: Rose-Lynn isn’t just an accomplished screwup (though she is); she’s also  a country music fanatic whose forearm bears a tattoo reading “Three chords and the truth,” her explanation of country music’s essence. All her life she has dreamed of singing professionally…but a Scottish country singer? C’mon.

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Johnny Flynn, Jessie Buckley

“BEAST”  My rating: B- 

107 minutes | MPAA rating: R

A gnarly character study posing as a serial killer thriller, Michael Pearce’s “Beast” very nearly defies description.

On its most graspable narrative level it’s about a socially challenged young woman who falls hard for a local lad, then begins to suspect that he may be the murderer terrorizing the island on which they live.

But it’s also a wince-worthy portrayal of a destructive family dynamic, of sexual rapture after a life of chastity, and of a hermetically-sealed society driven off the rails by paranoia and panic.

Which is a lot to cram into one movie.  With his first feature writer/director Pearce sometimes struggles to keep it all in balance, but thanks to solid performances he delivers the modest goods.

Moll (Jessie Buckley) is such an outsider she seems a stranger even at her own birthday party.  With an explosion of unkempt red hair and a personality that seems always in retreat, she’s a perennial misfit.

Moll works occasionally as a tour guide — like filmmaker Pearce she lives on the Isle of Jersey, an outpost of stiff-upper-lip Britishness just off the hedonistic French coast — but mostly she’s  caretaker to her dimentia-riddled father. She’s more or less cast in that role by the rest of the family, especially her domineering and icily biting mother (Geraldine James), who treats her like a con on probation.

Which, in a sense, Moll is.  Fourteen years earlier she used a pair of scissors to skewer a bullying classmate. She still hasn’t lived down her reputation as violently unstable. (more…)

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