Directed by István Szabó.
Written by Ronald Harwood. Based on a novella by W.
Starring Annette Bening, Jeremy Irons, Shaun Evans and Bruce
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 2/1/05
As I continue to try and work through
Oscar-nominated films, I had to catch the Annette Bening drama
"Being Julia", a film for which I literally saw no preview or
reviews. Amazing that a film starring Bening and Jeremy Irons
would fly completely under my radar...of course, by not seeing as
many smaller films and indies in 2004, I guess that can happen!
But, since the Oscar nomination got me into
the theater, I'm happy to report the movie was pretty good to boot.
In 1830s London, a superstar actress named Julia Lambert (Bening) is
currently starring in "Farewell, My Love" but is nearing the burnout
phase of this show's run. She is exhausted on the stage, and
off it, she seems to be dealing with the stress that any diva has to
address: adoring fans, a physically-absent love life, few
close friends. (How do they do it???) Married to fellow
actor and stage director Michael Gosselyn (Irons), they have one of
those "open" relationships that allows for them to be off on their
own for long stretches of time, and during one of these nightly
breaks from each other Julia meets Tom (Shaun Evans), an American
visiting London to soak up the theater scene and, ahem, do some
soaking for Julia as well! Romance, drama, break-ups and
reunions, blah blah blah.
I was fearful that "Being Julia" would be
one of those films where the lead actor/actress gets nominated but
the film itself would be dogshit; thankfully, the film is an
entertaining look at what it might be like to be a great performer
that doesn't know when to hit the off button when off the stage.
Bening is as advertised, although I didn't think she was
Oscar-nominee material...that's why I don't get to vote but trained
professionals do. But, she vamps it up where appropriate,
turning even a request for more coffee into an amped-up tirade.
I thought that Irons was passable, but that Evans was worthless as
the loverboy. Some of his scenes were so hammy I half-expected
Al Pacino to come waltzing onto the screen, chewin' on a hambone.
Parts of the Tom/Julia romance just feel
forced and flat-out fake. But, anytime that twosome is
offscreen, "Being Julia" was a fun ride. Loved the ending,
loved Bruce Greenwood, loved Irons, loved Michael Gambon as Julia's
dead mentor. Thanks to a mix of dramatic elements and stage
production sequences, the film is entertaining to keep up with.
Too bad about that forced romantic angle!
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard