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Movie Review

Being Julia

MPAA Rating: R for some sexuality

Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Comedy, Drama
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
Featuring: Annette Bening, Catherine Charlton, Jeremy Irons, Michael Gambon, Bruce Greenwood
Director: István Szabó
Producer: Robert Lantos
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics
Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics
Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics
Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics
Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics
Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics
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Copyright, Sony Pictures Classics



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I always figured being friends with an actor or actress could be a rather daunting task; it would only make things more difficult to be married to one. How do you know when they turn off their character and become their true selves? Do they even have a real self, after years of pretending to be someone else? Or, do they simply enjoy playing other people, and simply hide their true self so that they never have to be honest with themselves and others?

Julia Lambert, Annette Bening’s wickedly funny new character, is an actress in every sense of the word. She is an aging star (who acts both on and off stage) on the London stage in the 1930s when we meet her at the beginning of “Being Julia”. She has reached a sort of mid-life crisis; she says she is tired and needs a rest from the stage so that she can travel around visiting friends and family.

Her husband Michael (the always reliable Jeremy Irons) runs the business side of the theater where Julia performs, and he introduces her to a young American actor named Tom (Shaun Evans) who greatly admires her. She is naturally flattered by the attention and begins to spend more time with Tom. He is very up-front about what he wants with her, saying that he wants her badly, seemingly every time he speaks. She even makes mention of the fact that that’s all he seems to talk about when he is with her.

She begins an affair with Tom, and reveals to him shortly thereafter that she has fallen in love with him. After a trip to a summer house, Tom reveals his true side and begins a relationship with Avice Crichton, a budding young actress, and tries to use his connection with Julia to advance Avice’s career. Julia figures out his scheme and devises one of her own to exact revenge on the two.

There is little to no redeeming content in the film; no positive message that the film is trying to send. The characters are all reprehensible people who are only looking to satisfy their own sinful desires and are looking for a way to one-up everyone else Let’s see, there was lust, adultery, lying, jealousy, revenge, and homosexuality. This is just off the top of my head, I am sure there was more I could have piled on if I really took the time to think about it.

As for the actual objectionable content, most people will take issue with the sexual tone of the film, which is heavy. Sex is the topic of conversation throughout much of the movie, and the act is seen a few times. Most of the sex scenes are brief, although one contains graphic sounds and movement. However, there is little nudity to speak of, other than a brief glimpse of male rear nudity. There is a relatively small amount of language, and none of it is tremendously strong.

If there is any reason to see Being Julia, it would be the performances. Bening is flawless as Julia, and her character reminds me a little bit of Kevin Spacey’s in “American Beauty.” Both are people going through a midlife crisis who want things in their lives to change, and find that spark to change from the thought of an illicit romance. We wind up cheering for her to get her revenge, almost like we unwittingly cheer for Hannibal Lecter; neither deserves our sympathy or approval, but they take it from us nonetheless.

Jeremy Irons, Juliet Stevenson, Bruce Greenwood, and Michael Gambon all turn in great supporting performances, but are upstaged, of course, by Bening.

So, is it a good movie or not? It does drag a bit at times, and the movie does not quite hit its stride till the last fifteen minutes, which should be required viewing for any Acting 101 class—as Bening ups her performance another notch. More than likely, most people will not be all that interested or entertained by the film, and those who do go to see it may be offended by some of the content. As previously stated, all of the characters are leeches, and we do not gain much from our time watching them.

Unless your goal is to see all of the Oscar nominated films or performances this year, “Being Julia” is one of those movies that could be skipped without missing a whole lot.

Violence: None / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

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