Winter 2005 Edge series
Sunday, March 6, 2005 at 4:00pm
Sunday, March 6, 2005 at 7:00pm
Rated PG ·
Being Julia, directed by acclaimed filmmaker István Szabó (Mephisto, Sunshine) with his usual flair, panache and honed artistry, is sure to be a hit. Szabó thrives on bringing to life the emotional tones of periods past, as he did with Sunshine, his multi-awardwinning film about a Jewish family’s journey through the twentieth century, which screened as a Gala Presentation at the 1999 Toronto International Film Festival. Set in London in the thirties, Being Julia is based on the novella Theatre by W. Somerset Maugham. With the same devotion to his subject matter and evocative historical sensibility, Szabó turns his eye to the world of Julia Lambert (Annette Bening, American Beauty), the reigning grande dame of the London stage. The toast of the town, Julia remains hugely popular but is now slightly past her prime and ready to launch into something resembling a mid-life crisis. Feeling lost and in search of fulfillment, she falls madly in love with Tom (Shaun Evans, The Boys from County Clare), a dashing young American with whom she begins a December-May romance. However, as the increasingly risky relationship continues, Tom develops his secondary agenda; new to London, he makes use of Julia as a means of raising his profile among the city’s elite. Even as he courts Julia, Tom falls in love with Avice Crighton, a young starlet who desperately hopes to take to the stage. Julia is devastated, but she has had years of experience in the often conniving and underhanded world of theatre, and it isn’t long before she knows precisely how to exact a cunning, perfect, highly dramatic — and absolutely hilarious — revenge.
Being Julia is one of those rare movies that has a bit of everything: period-setting cinematography by famed Hungarian cinematographer and Szabó collaborator Lajos Koltai; flawless performances by the luminous Bening and the rest of the ensemble cast (including Jeremy Irons, Dead Ringers and The Merchant of Venice, as her producer and husband Michael Gosselyn), and a seamless, compelling storyline that leaves you wanting more. Szabó outdoes himself in his rendering of the comical yet touching behind-the-scenes life of the theatre, where love and hate, vulnerability and deception, triumph and devastation, co-mingle like nowhere else.