Being Julia

Release Date: October 15, 2004
Limited release

Movie of the Day for Wednesday, June 16, 2004
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Lady, your cheek is awfully cold.

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84/133 Dan Krovich Good payoff - but you've got to go a long way to get there

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It is famously said that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and one would believe that would go double for an actress scorned. Such is the basis of the film Being Julia, which tells the tale of Julia Lambert, celebrated icon of the London stage. On the surface, Julia seems to have everything anyone could want: A fabulous career in a glamorous world, a happy marriage to her long-time agent, and a strapping young son. But as is often the case, the truth of her existence is far different than what it appears.

Concerned that her fading youth and beauty will being to affect her career, estranged from her only son and pretending to be ignorant of her husband’s philandering, Julia is adrift in the world, searching for some way in which to regain the spark of passion. She seems to find that renewed fervor when she meets Tom, a young American admirer who also happens to be her son’s best friend. Tom sweeps Julia off her feet, and the aging celebrity embarks on an illicit affair which, if discovered, would create a social scandal that could ruin her already-waning career and destroy her rocky marriage. But Julia soon discovers that her exciting new passion is but the latest facet of her life to be based upon a lie, when she learns her ardent young paramour is more interested in what she can do for his career than in her, and that his real affection is actually devoted to an ambitious young starlet. This revelation leads Julia to plot an elaborate revenge to satisfy her wounded pride and get back some of the dignity that has been gradually eroded by the various compromises she has been forced to make.

Being Julia is based on the novel Theatre by W Somerset Maugham, and is being brought to the screen by director István Szabó and scripter Ronald Harwood, both art-house veterans with impressive lists of respected and relatively successful limited releases. The cast is also quite impressive, with Jeremy Irons and Annette Bening topping the list.

Being Julia sounds like a sterling example of the almost-lost art of the comedy of manners, and should be wicked fun during a season when most films are tending towards soppy sentimentality or gut-wrenching, unrelenting grief. Hell may hath no fury like a woman scorned, but audiences may find no greater pleasure than watching a witty tale of one such wreaking well-deserved and droll vengeance upon those who have done her wrong. (Stephanie Star Smith/BOP)

Vital statistics for Being Julia
Main Cast Annette Bening, Jeremy Irons, Michael Gambon, Shaun Evans
Supporting Cast Bruce Greenwood, Catherine Charlton, Maury Chaykin, Miriam Margolyes, Sheila McCarthy, Lucy Punch, Juliet Stevenson
Director Istvan Szabo
Screenwriter Ronald Harwood
Distributor Sony Pictures Classics
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating R
Running Time 105 minutes
Screen Count 7
Awards Awards page for Being Julia
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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