Opening 7 Apr 2005
After a long career, do actors lose the ability to distinguish between their real emotions and their acted emotions? This interesting question is at the heart of Being Julia, a film starring Annette Bening in the title role and directed by Hungarian István Szabó (Mephisto). Bening’s Julia is a 1930s London theater actress at the top of her game but who starts to doubt her talent and her sexiness as she hits her mid 40s. Her business partner/husband Michael (Jeremy Irons) loves her but has a wandering eye, and Julia’s longtime friendship with a Lord (Bruce Greenwood) has never progressed beyond affectionate hugs. Julia’s spirits are raised when young American Tom (Shaun Evans) starts an affair with her, but she soon discovers Tom is also seeing a much younger actress (Lucy Punch). It will take all of Julia’s abilities, acting and otherwise, to find her way to happiness.
All of the actors, but especially Bening, do a wonderful job with the clever screenplay (based on the 1937 novella Theatre by W. Somerset Maugham and written by Ronald Harwood, Oscar winner for the screenplay for The Pianist) that explores, among other things, the battle of the sexes and life imitating art imitating life. Though the story takes place in the 1930s, all of the themes are very relevant to today. The sets, costumes and cinematography are also lush and opulent. My only disappointment with the film was that it dragged in the middle, but it more than made up for it with a superb ending. In all, spending a couple of hours with Julia is well-worth the time. (Kirsten Greco)