Being Julia

7.01 h 44 min2004R
In the role that brought her amazing critical acclaim as well as the National Board of Review's Best Actress Award, Annette Bening plays a beautiful and beguiling actress who finds herself bored withbeing the toast of the town.
Istvan Szabo
Annette BeningJeremy IronsBruce Greenwood
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Leigh LawsonMiriam MargolyesJuliet StevensonMaury ChaykinSheila McCarthyMichael Gambon
Robert Lantos
Sony Pictures Classics
R (Restricted)
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4.5 out of 5 stars

251 global ratings

  1. 69% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 17% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 10% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

SociologyReaderReviewed in the United States on February 8, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Wonderful performances and sense of time/place
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Having just watched "Hope Gap," I was looking for another Annette Bening film. I was surprised that I had never seen "Being Julia," where Bening also plays the main character -- with a British accent. This film (colorful, lush, vibrant staging and scenery) is a joy to watch -- and the music is amazing.

The story, based on a novella of Somerset Maugham (who also wrote the book on which one of my favorite 1940s films "The Razor's Edge), tells the tale of an "aging" British actress and where her "real life" resides -- in the theatre, or with her very young lover (who has questionable motivations). Yes, the film reaches a rather silly climax, but then.... it's all in the play! Jeremy Irons and Michael Gambon are also excellent. A great film for watching on a rainy (or snowy) Sunday afternoon!
One person found this helpful
C. CollinsReviewed in the United States on November 16, 2008
4.0 out of 5 stars
Annette Benning captures the mid-life crisis perfectly
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Annette Bening and Jeremy Irons are superb in the film Being Julia. Bening plays a successful actress enjoying fame and fortune even though she is reaching close to 50 years old. She and her husband, played by Irons, have long had an open marriage. They are business partners as well as parents to a young college age son. Bening plays in one hit play after another but she is reaching the point of artistic, spiritual and physical exhaustion. She meets a handsome gentleman her age for dinner engagements and his attentions and wise advice certainly helps her maintain stability, but she is highly vulnerable as she starts to fall in the mid-life crisis age.

Into this situation falls a handsome young American man with great enthusiasm for Julia and for show business. He seems innocent and young and naive but this is hardly the case. When pursuing a woman, he is determined, self-assured, assertive, funny, fun loving and knowing beyond his years. What does a famous actress do when faced with a handsome adoring younger man while she is in the midst of a vulnerable mid-life crisis?

Julia, who is a master of the stage, is somewhat vulnerable when dealing with real emotional experiences. The ghost of her former friend and director appears often to give her advice on emotion and reality, but Julia makes every wrong move with the handsome young man. She violates the three primary rules of the game of affairs. She admits to him that she has fallen in love with him, she shows open jealousy and possessiveness, and she becomes clinging and weepy. This is the perfect formula to drive a new lover away. To make matters worse, she gives him expensive gifts and lends him money for his debts.

When a young, talented, beautiful aspiring actress comes into the scene, the formula changes. Julia finds that Tom has fallen in love with the girl and that her husband is having an affair with her also. Desperate times call for desperate measures and the resolution of the film is Julia's strategy to once again gain the upper hand.

Exceptionally well acted, both Annette Bening and Jeremy Irons are superb. The supporting cast is also exceptional.
8 people found this helpful
Esperanza ReynoldsReviewed in the United States on November 8, 2008
5.0 out of 5 stars
An excellent performance
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Being Julia surfaces a deliciously complicated character, played to perfection by Annette Bening. The movie is based on a novel written in 1937 by W. Somerset Maugham: Theatre.

Julia Lambert is the greatest actress in England; recognized and admired by art lovers. Her plays are scheduled for many weeks at a time. On stage she is professional and forgets the reality of the outside world, making her plays the reality of the moment.

But... she is bored, she has lost the energy and romance in the relationship she shares with her husband, played by Jeremy Irons. One day, a rather young male visits this couple and Julia finds in his admiration of her the elements she missed and soon she is involved with this young man in a rather destructive relationship, for while she thinks she loves him, he is only using her to advance his career, to penetrate the walls that protect high society, and to extract the money he needs to live beyond his means. At first she satisfies her vanity, then she is thrilled by the renewed sexual passion and finally, she is hurt beyond her expectations.

They go on a vacation and the young man accompanies Julia and her husband, who are also joined by their son. As with all marital deception, the person committing adultery soon finds that they are jealous of any relationship partner because they fear the same happening to them, and Julia becomes rather jealous of a young woman who becomes involved with the young American, played by Shaun Evans.

The play turns rather interesting because the young woman is also using the rather shy, but by now, rather arrogant lover. All she wants is to be selected to become part of Julia's new theatre play. And... here is where the play becomes simply delicious to watch for Julia's performance is superb, turning this movie into a most see performance. Don't miss it!
One person found this helpful
LDReviewed in the United States on January 25, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great film about the theater
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I think this is one of Annette Bening's best films. While Jeremy Irons is also very good it is really her film. I have loved it for a long time and could not find my old DVD so treated myself to a new one so I can watch it whenever I want to which is about once a year more or less......ld
warrenReviewed in the United States on April 24, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
a surprise enjoyment
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it's a new movie, but made like an old movie, but with today's storyline and tartness. the music is a all the best of cole porter and associates. along with bening and irons you have wonderful actors Michael gambon, leigh Lawson, shaun evans, bruce greenwood, the wonderful rita tushingham, Miriam margolyes as dolly, rosemary harris and a slew of character actors you may have not heard of. I had a lot of fun watching this one. I hope you like it too.
Edward NagelReviewed in the United States on April 5, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
Bening is Beguiling and Wonderful
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Annette Bening is a smash in this film about theatre
in 1938 in the West End in London. She burns with high octane talent
and the cast around her, the fine Jeremy Irons and others
all do such a great job. The writing is fine and the ending
is a real dramatic treat, a tour de force as Irons as her
husband calls her revenge scene Bening is in the group of our finest actresses,
with Cate Blanchett and Meryle Streep. Those who love theatre
will love it as well as those without the behind the scenes knowledge
of stage magic. The DVD is great and seller's service excellent.
Writer Ed
G. A SENDEROFFReviewed in the United States on November 14, 2005
5.0 out of 5 stars
Benning deserved an Oscar!
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I watched every film in the best actress category except this one. I always thought Hillary Swank was a shue-in for best actress at the 2004 Academy Awards -- until I saw this film. It is not only a beautiful film for actors and people who like fine theatre but it was a film that showed off Annette Benning's role of a lifetime. I know this movie did not receive much noteriety but it certainly should have. Benning is a gifted actress who plays a stage actress in the movie. She is sad, enthusiastic, flamboyant and loveable. Everything from the cript to the delivery of the performances were executed beautifully and gracefully in this film. Being Julia is unique and high brow.
4 people found this helpful
AHEReviewed in the United States on October 4, 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
i only purchased this movie because i am building a collection of films shot in hungary.
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i only purchased this movie because i am building a collection of films shot in hungary.
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