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Being Julia (March 29/05)

Though Being Julia is set in London, there's an unmistakably Canadian feel to it. The movie's been produced by Canadian-by-default uber-producer Robert Lantos, and features a whole host of Canucks in supporting roles (Bruce Greenwood, Maury Chakin - heck, even television mogul Moses Znaimer makes a cameo appearance!)

Annette Bening plays Julia, a British stage actress who's at the top of her game. But when she begins seeing a much younger man - even though she's married to a successful producer (Jeremy Irons) - Julia's seemingly perfect life begins to crumble around her.

Though Being Julia is an undeniably lush and expensive-looking production, the film never manages to step beyond the realm of over-the-top campiness. This is primarily due to Ronald Harwood screenplay, which owes a lot to All About Eve (the film's second half is devoted almost exclusively to a scheming actress who tries to steal the focus from Julia) - though the comparisons end there.

The biggest problem with Being Julia lies in the character of Julia herself, a woman who simply isn't all that interesting. Bening's broad performance seems like it'd be more at home in a 40s melodrama; this is the sort of role one can imagine Joan Crawford playing back in the day. Julia's unlikeable nature is what eventually sinks Being Julia, and it does seem curious that such a mediocre film has received so much acclaim.

out of

About the DVD: Being Julia arrives on DVD courtesy of Universal Pictures, who presents the film with a lush letterboxed transfer. In terms of extras, the disc comes with an audio commentary (featuring director Istvan Szabo, Bening and Irons), four deleted scenes, and two behind-the-scenes featurettes.