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

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

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.