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
The picture frame that Julia picks up from the piano on stage has plastic hanging hooks on the back in a style and manufacturing method which would not have been available in 1938 England. See more »
I think I used to know your father in Jersey, he was a doctor, wasn't he? He used to come to our house quite often.
Actually, he was a vet, he used to go to your house to deliver the bitches. Your house was full of them.
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I am not a fan of Annette Benning by any stretch of the imagination. I thought she was far too old to play the schoolgirlish ingenue in "An American President", and found her lacking in warmth and charisma as the love interest in "Open Range". I thought she was okay for what she had to do in "Dick Tracy", and honestly can't remember her performance in "American Beauty".
In "Being Julia", however, Benning's performance thoroughly does justice to her larger-than-life character. Benning plays 1930s stage actress Julia Lambert. Julia is by turns melodramatic, egocentric, overbearing and overwrought. She roars into our consciousness from her first scene to her final curtain.
Benning is surrounded by a fine cast of actors and actresses who act as perfect foils for her. Jeremy Irons, especially, is subtle and subdued as her manager husband, Michael Gosselyn. Juliet Stevenson is a sly confederate as Julia's dresser Evie. Miriam Margolyes is a hoot as theatre owner Dolly. Shaun Evans is a feast for the eyes as Tom Fennell, the young cad who breaks Julia's heart. Michael Gambon rounds out the cast as Jimmy Langton, a ghostly mentor to the very much alive and lively Julia.
Julia is not exactly what you would call an admirable human being. She is self-centered, bitchy, catty and vengeful. But, as the Italians say, "revenge is a dish best eaten cold". The film keeps us in suspense as we nervously wait for the other shoe to drop, for Julia to execute her carefully plotted revenge. When she springs her trap, we may shake our heads disapprovingly, but we cannot suppress a hearty laugh.
By its very nature, "Being Julia" is a film that will not appeal to a young demographic. You have to be a certain age to appreciate Julia's predicament of growing old and feeling that life and love have passed her by. Benning bravely allows director Istvan Szabo to film her in merciless and unforgiving closeup, to capture the lines etched in her brow, around her mouth and at her neckline. But the film leaves us with a sense of hope that, like Julia, we may all age like fine wine -- or like the beer whose creamy foam Julia relishes like her life itself: without the slightest trace of sadness or regret.
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