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Overall Rating
3.47

Awesome: 2.94%
Worth A Look50%
Average: 38.24%
Pretty Bad: 8.82%
Total Crap: 0%

4 reviews, 10 user ratings


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Being Julia
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by Jason Whyte

"This is a movie my mom would love...but I liked it too."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. Istvan Stabo's "Being Julia" is a film festival darling, a throwback to the live stage performances of the 1930's that shows a time and a place that is long and far gone, but still finds its place among the film festival and art house crowd.

Annette Bening plays Julia Lambert, a successful, acclaimed stage performer in London. Trouble is, she's getting a bit older and the parts that she is famous for will start disappearing to younger, more gorgeous actors (my, that doesn't sound like anything that happens today, does it?). In a sort of mid-life crisis, Julia strikes up an affair with a younger fan named Tom (Shaun Evans) behind who really has plans of his own to break into the industry (he's doing a little bit of male Becky Sharp work here). Of course, this is all behind the back of Julia's producer/husband Michael (Jeremy Irons).

Things get a bit more interesting when a younger actress named Avice (Lucy Punch) comes into the next play being produced. Julia quickly finds out she has been duped and plans a bit of revenge of her own, both on Avice and on Tom. This all comes crashing together in a final sequence that is a lot of fun to watch.

It's interesting to see Bening's work here. She gets the "Dahhhling!" aspect of her stage-performance down pat, especially her speaking voice which is low and "professional". Jeremy Irons has fun playing her husband. Juliet Steveson (whom I last remember from "Bend it Like Beckham") is also excellent as a stagehand, and watch out for Michael Gambon playing as a deceased guide to Julia's actions.

Stabo, directing from Ronald Harwood's screenplay based on W. Somerset Maugham's novel "Theatre", has previously directed several different-themed films than this one, including "Sunshine" (1999), "Mephisto" (1981) and "Offenbach's Secret" (1996). Here he directs with a warm and welcome palette of colorful cinematography and style. Though the film has somewhat of a Canadian look and feel (it was produced by big-wig Robert Lantos for a Canadian company), the film is enjoyable all the way to the very end thanks to its humour and solid acting.

By the attention that this film has been recieving at recent festivals (it opened both the Toronto and Vancouver Film Festivals) it can be assumed we are getting some kind of Oscar-worthy classic modern masterpiece, but rather it is a fun and likable comedy about the stage life that is (sadly) long, long gone.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10444&reviewer=350
originally posted: 09/28/04 09:00:39
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Boston Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Boston Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/25/13 Joe Smaltz Charming. Jullette is aging well, ideal for a cougher role 5 stars
12/19/06 William Goss Bening casually commands on-/off-stage drama. 4 stars
10/06/05 Ava Rice Well-acted but sour and uninteresting story. 2 stars
7/31/05 PRE Charming. Pre-war joie de vivre and a small drama. A little gem. 4 stars
6/14/05 PLR Too trivial and what about unexplained barkers playing to the theater goers. 2 stars
5/31/05 MLW Julia's revenge is indeed funny but it is to damn trivial that who really gives a damn. 3 stars
3/19/05 Mark McLeod strong performance from benning but not award calibre 2 stars
3/05/05 Gloria Anderson annette is awfully good in this 4 stars
2/05/05 dbx annette is great; consistently entertaining film, more than I can say about most films now 4 stars
9/21/04 Margo charming,see this with your mother 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  15-Oct-2004 (R)
  DVD: 22-Mar-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  17-Mar-2005




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