On the fiftieth anniversary of Judy Garland’s death, director Stephen Kijak has created a timely and engrossing documentary with Sid & Judy.
In 1950, film producer Sid Luft met Hollywood star Judy Garland. Garland had just parted ways with MGM, the company which had made her a star, and controlled her every move…
Sid & Judy begins at a later point in Garland’s career before going back. It is a good device, welcoming the audience in at a troubled point before pulling back. The film gives viewers a history of Garland’s career up to the point she meets Sid Luft. As his memoirs continue, Luft waxes lyrical on the current as well as Garland’s past.
The documentary combines film clips, audio recordings, interview footage, archive photographs and Luft’s memoirs to paint a picture of Garland’s life and her career in Hollywood and beyond. Director Kijak constantly mixes these elements to make Sid & Judy feel like a comprehensive portrait of the star, as well as her marriage to Luft.
The star of Sid & Judy undoubtedly is Luft’s memoirs. These are descriptive and beautifully written, painting a evocative picture of Garland and the couple’s relationship. Narration by Jon Hamm is perfectly pitched. Jennifer Jason Leigh is also well cast voicing Garland.
The film indicates how aspects of Garland’s childhood and family life could have influenced her later decisions and troubles. Of course, this is subjective. After all, it is Luft’s memoirs for the most part which tell the story. Nevertheless the yarn that is spun is compelling viewing.
One of the most interesting aspects of the film is how Luft himself dealt with Garland’s addiction. The film details the struggles that Luft faced as he attempted to get her clean, and also the toll her addiction took place on their marriage. The personal insight here is most fascinating.
Sid & Judy effectively conveys Garland’s magnetism, and does not shy away from depicting the star’s personal struggles. A very entertaining documentary.
Sid & Judy is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2019.