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From "Pentimento," the memoirs of late playwright Lillian Hellman, JULIA covers those years in the 1930s when Lillian attained fame with the production of her first play "The Childrens' Hour" on Broadway. Not surprisingly, it centers on Lillian's relationship with her lifelong friend, Julia. It is a relationship that goes beyond mere acquaintance and one for which the word "love" seems appropriate. While Julia attends the University in Vienna, studying with such luminaries as Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein, Lillian suffers through revisions of her play with her mentor and sometimes lover Dashiel Hammett at a New England beachhouse. After becoming a celebrated playwright, Lillian is invited to a writers conference in Russia. Julia, having taken up the battle against fascism, enlists Lillian en route to smuggle money through Nazi Germany which will assist in the Anti-Fascist cause. It is a dangerous mission especially for a Jewish intellectual on her way to communist Russia. During a... Written by
Mark Fleetwood <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Most remarkable, to me, about "Julia" is the understated acting of Vanessa Redgrave. For the amount of time she's on the screen, one would not assume her to be worthy of an Academy Award nomination, let alone the Oscar itself (1977, Best Supporting Actress). But there is something about that marvelous, tension-filled scene in the Berlin restaurant that comes across as nothing short of superior. Much the same can be said of Jason Robards as Dashiell Hammett, i.e. understated and short, and he, too, got the equivalent Oscar, rightfully outpointing co-star Maximillian Schell. What I had supposed would be a "chick flick" faux-biopic turned out to be a gripping drama on the highest order worth four stars from me.
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