Being Julia

"Very Good"

Being Julia Review


When you have a performance as fresh and audacious as this one from a movie star who doesn't average a film a year, it makes you wonder why we see so little of her. But here she is, Annette Bening (Open Range, The Grifters), wowing us with her patented delicious verve in the form of stage naughtiness -- a portrayal that should go on more than one Best Actress list for the year 2004.

As the great Julia Lambert, the toast of the London stage in the early '30s, she's struck by a premonition of fading vitality at the grand age of forty. Worries of it bring her close to a breakdown as she begins to desperately search for other stimuli to give her life meaning. She carries on a dialogue with her muse, Jimmy Langton (Michael Gambon), her dead drama coach that she summons up as an imagined presence to tell her when she's going well or going astray.

More tangible is the guidance of Michael Gosselyn (Jeremy Irons), her canny, pipe-puffing producer who happens also to be her husband in a marriage of both convenience and mutual respect. In the business of theatre, he is her truest artistic and career guide. He also recognizes an actor's insecurity when he sees it and, knowingly or not, provides a spark for her spirit by introducing her to twentysomething American Tom Fennel (Shaun Evans). This lad's admiration of the famous lady is both a balm to her sagging spirits and a tightrope of opportunism.

In the picture, as close confidant and dependable friend, is Lord Charles (Bruce Greenwood) who provides comfort through thick or thin. And, while true friendships are rare for the star, the one who knows her on the most vulnerable level is her dresser Evie (Juliet Stevenson). In the dressing-room banter between them, often consisting of mutual derision, Evie serves as a sounding board and pressure release for Sylvia's nerves, anger and disappointments. When her lover's philandering ways become more than suspicion, she collapses emotionally, only to revive with a sense of command that makes for a brilliant third act that focuses on her wicked genius. With it, she produces a bit of dramatized vengeance that sets things straight onstage and off. Bening pulls off a performance of stunning style and juicy enjoyment. That is, if you're on her Julia's side, and we all are!

From a novella (Theatre) by W. Somerset Maugham that could easily be construed as dated, screenwriter Ronald Harwood achieves a rich and balanced adaptation with dialogue that has the sparkle of humor and good wit for today. Paced to perfection, it characterizes the time as well as the personalities. István Szabó's direction wastes no motion in keeping us fully engaged by a fine style and sophistication led by superbly crafted and tempered acting. Lajos Koltai's lighting enhances everything before his lens.

Kudos and bouquets to all but most especially to Bening for a delectably meaty job of saucing up the drama and for an inimitable screen presence that can only be faulted for not showing up as often on our screens as her talent would justify, if not demand. Bravisima!

Bening, Irons, and director István Szabó offer commentary on the DVD, which also includes deleted scenes, and two behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Be like Annette.



Being Julia

Facts and Figures

Run time: 104 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 11th November 2004

Box Office USA: $7.7M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: Sony Pictures Classics, Serendipity Point Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Fresh: 94 Rotten: 29

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jimmie Langton, as Julia Lambert, as Michael Gosselyn, as Rupert, as Avice Crichton, as Curtain Call Boy, as Dolly de Vries

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

City of Ghosts Movie Review

City of Ghosts Movie Review

This award-winning documentary plays like a thriller as it traces the work of a group...

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Advertisement
Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.