104 minutes – Drama
Release date: October 15, 2004
DVD Release date: March 22, 2005
Set in pre-Second World War London, the Canadian-American-Hungarian-British co-production of Being Julia is a wise, witty, and often uproarious celebration of womanhood in all its infinite variety. Based on the 1937 W. Somerset Maugham novel, Theatre, the film tells the story of a great stage actress, Julia Lambert (Annette Bening), who, in mid-life, must figure out her role both in real terms and on stage. Although at her peak, physically and professionally, her successful theatrical career and her marriage to handsome impresario Michael Gosselyn (Jeremy Irons) have become stale and unfulfilling. She longs for novelty and excitement. She is introduced by her husband to Tom Fennell (Shaun Evans), a younger man who claims to be Julia’s greatest fan. Finding his ardor irresistible, she decides that romance is the best antidote to a mid-life crisis and embarks on a passionate affair. Life becomes more daring and exciting, until Julia’s young lover callously tries to relegate her to a supporting role. But on opening night of a new play, Julia reveals that she is a more formidable actress than anyone ever imagined.
Written when Maugham was well known and highly regarded for his urbane, cynical, and highly commercial plays, his volatile cast of characters were drawn from the real world he inhabited at the time. Being Julia combines lush period atmosphere with a series of timeless observations about men, women, life and art. The world of the theatre becomes a metaphor for the roles we all play in intimate relationships, the comedies, tragedies and melodramas that are a part of daily life.
Also see: Being Julia: The Stage Is a World.