Consumed with the stage, its internecine squabbles and flights of ego, "Being Julia" is reminiscent of "All About Eve," and its lead is a fine portrait of a woman scorned and her ensuing wrath. But the source material, an appealing story by W. Somerset Maugham, is anodyne in comparison. It also ends up mishandling a fine pool of talent, including Jeremy Irons (Julia's willing cuckold) resigned mostly to shuffling papers and buttering toast.
Many of the characters in "Being Julia" betray a similar lack of gusto. Doubtless Bening lost her Oscar in part because it was outmatched in sympathy. But just as Julia suffers under an upstart supporting cast, her real-world counterpart may have been done in by a lackluster one. Wayne Melton
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