Being Julia

Being Julia


Reviewed by: David Stanners

Based on Somerset Maugham's novel, Being Julia sets itself in London's West End in the Thirties. Julia (Annette Bening) is an ageing theatre actress with a highly decorated reputation. Her estranged husband Michael (Jeremy Irons) runs the production side of things and pretty soon it's clear their marriage amounts to little more than a business transaction.

This leaves Julia in the doldrums and, while juggling an affair with Lord Charles (Bruce Greenwood), she secretly welcomes the arrival of Tom (Shaun Evans), a young, quietly confident American, under the orders of her husband to balance the books. Tom soon takes a shine to his employer's sexually frustrated wife, who appears in need of an ego massage and a little more. A passionate love affair ensues between the pair, which has doom written all over it. Urged on by Jimmy (Michael Gambon), the director of Julia's new play, she is encouraged to work on her sexual emotion. This provides the cue to take Tom further under her wing. Needless to say, he soon takes heed of the situation and sensing Julia's bonding feelers a little to close for comfort, makes tracks for a younger piece of action

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When Michael invites Tom on holiday with the family in their summerhouse, Tom takes a liking to a young pretty actress, called Avice Crichton (Lucy Punch). This triggers off a mid life crisis in Julia, and her constant craving for acceptance and star-like adulation comes to a head with her plan to take Avice down a peg or two, after Julia has agreed to give her a part in the new play.

Being Julia is a light and frothy period stage drama, which brings out the self-importance of luvvies, but in a likeable, endearing way. Not a great deal happens between the rumpy, the pumpy and the Pimms, but as the title suggests, this is all about being Julia, and Bening gives an excellent rendition of a woman desperate to cling on to the spot light, up until the point when her son Roger teaches her a small, but valuable lesson in life.

If you're a fan of the theatre, don't mind luvvies being luvvies and enjoy an elongated version of a Sunday night period melodrama, with an abundance of tomfoolery, then this should tickle your fancy.

Reviewed on: 20 Nov 2004
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Being Julia packshot
Rumpy-pumpy and Pimms in Thirties theatre-land.
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Director: Istvan Szabo

Writer: Ronald Harwood, based on the novel by W Somerset Maugham

Starring: Annette Bening, Jeremy Irons, Bruce Greenwood, Miriam Margolyes, Juliet Stevenson, Shaun Evans, Lucy Punch, Michael Gambon, Maury Chaykin, Sheila McCarthy, Leigh Lawson, Rosemary Harris, Rita Tushingham, Tom Sturridge, Catherine Charlton

Year: 2004

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: Canada/US/Hungary/UK


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