Being Julia review

A minor drama built around a major performance, Being Julia stars Annette Bening as a fortysomething theatre diva who's queen of the West End in 1938. Emotionally divorced from manager husband Jeremy Irons, she falls into bed with a young admirer (Shaun Evans) whose ulterior motives inspire Julia to do some scheming of her own...

Eventually, the stage is set for an uproarious revenge scene that deserves a standing ovation. Problem is, Hungarian helmer István Szabó leaves his grand finale waiting in the wings for so long you're almost past caring by the time it arrives. It doesn't help that our heroine is so self-absorbed, but Bening invests her with enough spark and presence to ensure the film holds together, even in its driest patches. There's punchy work from the other players (Irons in particular) - but her's is the only name likely to reach gong-givers' shortlists come awards season.

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