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
When Tom first dances with Julia in a nightclub, he is clearly seen wearing a square-faced wristwatch. This is the Cartier given to him a few scenes later by Julia. He shouldn't be wearing a watch at all in this early scene, having pawned his own round-faced watch to pay for the night's entertainment. See more »
Your only reality is the theater. Anything else, what civilians call the real world, is nothing but fantasy and I bloody well won't let you forget it.
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Annette Bening does her best work ever in this film set in the 1930's about the life of an English stage actress. Her performance is over-the-top when it needs to be and, at the same time, evinces a trembling vulnerability as in scenes where she begs her young lover to remain with her. Bening's acting will certainly win her an Oscar nomination and should win her the award. It's far and away the best acting -- male or female -- that I've seen this year. (Admittedly, there are many critically praised performances that I haven't seen.) The versatile Michael Gambon will probably not be nominated for his wonderful turn as Bening's acting teacher but he is another of the marvelous things about this film. Jeremy Irons is also very good as the stage/manager-husband as is Juliet Stevenson as the star's personal assistant and dresser. Istvan Szabo, the director, and Ronald Harwood, who adapted the Somerset Maugham story, also deserve mention. Go see it.
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