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

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

With its fifth feature-length adventure, this franchise continues its preposterous journey at full tilt. As...

Keanu Movie Review

Keanu Movie Review

An entertaining hybrid of satirical comedy and action thriller, this madcap adventure swerves wildly between...

Ghostbusters Movie Review

Ghostbusters Movie Review

It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with...

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly...

Advertisement
The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still...

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a...

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Nearly 25 years after the sitcom debuted, Edina and Patsy arrive on the big screen...

Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence Movie Review

After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

Based on a true story, this Chilean drama has a chilling edge to it that's...

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel, especially one starring much...

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

This movie is based on a real meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon in...

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.