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Being Julia (2004)

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Set in '30s London, the film involves stage actors and their experiences with love and revenge.


István Szabó


W. Somerset Maugham (novel), Ronald Harwood (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Gambon ... Jimmie Langton
Annette Bening ... Julia Lambert
Leigh Lawson ... Archie Dexter
Shaun Evans ... Tom Fennel
Mari Kiss Mari Kiss ... Mr. Gosselyn's Secretary
Jeremy Irons ... Michael Gosselyn
Ronald Markham Ronald Markham ... Butler
Terry Sach Terry Sach ... Chauffeur
Catherine Charlton ... Miss Philips
Juliet Stevenson ... Evie
Miriam Margolyes ... Dolly de Vries
Max Irons ... Curtain Call Boy
Andrew Paton Story Busher Andrew Paton Story Busher ... Male Singer
George Lang George Lang ... Antoine the Maitre D
Michael Culkin ... Rupert


1938. Julia Lambert and Michael Gosselyn are the royal couple of the London theater scene, Julia an actress and Michael a former actor who took over running the theater and its troupe upon the passing of their mentor, Jimmie Langton. Jimmie is still constantly with Julia in spirit as she navigates through life. Besides their work, Julia and Michael lead largely separate lives, they long ago having stopped a sexual relationship. Julia of late has been feeling disenchanted with her life, she not wanting to admit it's because she is approaching middle age. Her disenchantment manifests itself in wanting Michael to close their current production early so that she can recharge her juices, something he is reluctant to do if only for not wanting to let the theater sit empty. What Julia ends up doing instead is embarking on an affair with Tom Fennel, an adoring young American who is young enough to be her son. As Julia and Tom's relationship progresses, the more she falls in love with him and ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Passion. Obsession. Revenge. Prepare for the performance of a lifetime.


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



Canada | USA | Hungary | UK



Release Date:

18 February 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Adorable Julia See more »

Filming Locations:

Budapest, Hungary See more »


Box Office


$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$101,126, 17 October 2004, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$7,739,049, 3 April 2005
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Miranda Richardson was originally attached to play Julia Lambert. See more »


Tom tells Julia that Michael has given him a box for the opening of the new play. When we see Tom after Julia makes an obvious reference to him by saying, "B-E-N," he is seated not in a box but in the orchestra section, next to Julia's son and in front of Julia's male friend. See more »


Jimmie Langton: Your only reality is the theater. Anything else, what civilians call the real world, is nothing but fantasy and I bloody well won't let you forget it.
Julia Lambert: Rubbish.
See more »


Featured in The 77th Annual Academy Awards (2005) See more »


They Didn't Believe Me
Written by Jerome Kern and Herbert Reynolds
Published by Universal Music Publishing Ltd.
Performed by Alison Jiear
See more »

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User Reviews

Revenge of the Elegant Older Woman
17 November 2004 | by noraleeSee all my reviews

"Being Julia" is like a period version of "All About Eve," such that it's a cross between "Stage Beauty" for gender and naturalism on and off the stage issues and "Bright Young Things" for time period.

One problem, though, is that it's unclear how much sub-text is intentional or accidental, particularly to an American audience. Though the cast is a mixed Commonwealth crew, as indicated by wavering accents, are the men intentionally effete (other than a charismatic Michael Gambon as a remembered mentor) such that we're more surprised that the British upper classes replicated at all rather than that some play for the other team. Or is there a message about masculinity vs. femininity on stage vs. off.

Is it to be intentionally satirical that Annette Bening's younger rival is frequently referred to as "the pretty one", but, well, Lucy Punch is certainly not conventionally pretty. Let alone that the young man they are competing over, Shaun Evans, is a bland Ken doll with zero sex appeal.

I also assume it was W. Somerset Maugham's intention that the plays Bening's diva is starring in are lightweight Noel Coward imitations (accented by the use of a witty Coward song on the soundtrack) and that there's a character named "Roger" for some double entendre tittering.

Which all leads up to my assumption that it's intentional that Bening looks so much more beautiful and lively when she's wearing hardly any noticeable make-up, especially in the transcendent closing shot, much as Juliette Binoche in "Jet Lag (Décalage horaire)" looked startlingly beautiful when she stopped trying to look younger.

But all these weaknesses are forgotten as Bening and the film climax to the denouement, such that you can't help cheering her victory while humming the lovely soundtrack.

The costumes are also wonderful.

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