1938. Julia Lambert and Michael Gosselyn are the royal couple of the London theater scene, Julia an actress and Michael a former actor who took over running the theater and its troupe upon the passing of their mentor, Jimmie Langton. Jimmie is still constantly with Julia in spirit as she navigates through life. Besides their work, Julia and Michael lead largely separate lives, they long ago having stopped a sexual relationship. Julia of late has been feeling disenchanted with her life, she not wanting to admit it's because she is approaching middle age. Her disenchantment manifests itself in wanting Michael to close their current production early so that she can recharge her juices, something he is reluctant to do if only for not wanting to let the theater sit empty. What Julia ends up doing instead is embarking on an affair with Tom Fennel, an adoring young American who is young enough to be her son. As Julia and Tom's relationship progresses, the more she falls in love with him and ... Written by
Tom Sturridge in a lovely performance as Roger, Julia's son, puts it beautifully in a soft confrontation with his mother. "You're playing, mother, or playing wife..." Yes, acting as a way of life as a way of being. Tricky. Ronald Harwood can write the ins and outs of theatrical life better than any living soul - remember "The Dresser? - This is not any way near as good or as insightful but is charming and fun. Lilli Palmer played the part back in the 60's in "Adorable Julia" and she was adorable indeed as is Annette Bening in a tour de force performance with regular interruptions to give plenty of space to the trade mark Bening giggle. Shaun Evans plays the young man, the object of Julia's desire, her frustrating emotional holiday and I must admit, that's the one element that should have sizzle instead of fizzle. Shaun Evans is a good actor but it doesn't have anything that would make us understand the folly attraction that awakes in Julia. He plays an American but appears bland, as bland as a British actor can be when he's bland. I longed for a Billy Crudup or someone younger, a Brad Renfro. Can you imagine what the movie would have been like with a Heath Ledger in that part? Unless, of course, the whole thing was intentional to underline Julia's absurdity. An actress on the verge of a nervous break down. Comparasions with "All About Eve" are ridiculous. That would be like comparing "One Flew Over The Cookoo's Nest" with "The Couch Trip"
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