Annette Bening is just plain classy…as a woman, as an actress, as a working mother, etc. Her role in Being Julia is about a classy stage actress in 1930s London. Does the character resemble the real life woman? Well, honestly I don’t know since I am not on personal terms with Ms. Bening. But, I’m assuming, just on the basis that both are famous, well-respected actresses, that there are some parallels. Bening plays Julia Lambert, a spoiled, middle-aged West End (London’s “Broadway”) goddess used to getting her way. She is in a sexless marriage with her husband, played by Jeremy Irons, who also is her stage producer. Their marriage is more of a matter of convenience and business than one of love. So, when she takes up with a younger man, the void of love in her life is filled. Or is it? I know—sounds boring and more like an installment of Masterpiece Theatre than a captivating film. But, boring is the last thing this film is. Trust me. And, that’s mostly due to Bening and her marvelous performance. She brings light and air into Julia…humor when necessary and a sense of doom when called for. In the film, Julia is questioned on whether she is being true to her emotions or if she is just “acting.” I, for one, never knew the answer to that and really didn’t care. Bening is so convincing as Julia that the lines become intertwined between “real life” and “the stage.”

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A wonderful feel-good romantic comedy of the 1990s…which was a decade of some of the best (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, etc.). But, it also answers the question…what would a single (or divorced, widowed) president do if they wanted to start dating while in office? Here, President Shepherd meets someone he’s interested in and thinks he can just start dating…like he’s a regular guy. But, he isn’t…he’s the President. And, he picks someone tough and opinionated and stubborn…lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade, who at first, finds all of the attention (from him and from the nation) sweet but then it begins to grate on her, especially when it starts affecting her career. One of the things that really makes this one stand out among all of the other “rom coms” is the cast. Bening and Douglas are just perfect together…both when things are good and when things are problematic. They exude chemistry…we can really see these two people together. Romantic comedies are usually unrealistic in their simplicity, so having good, solid characters helps make the story a success. And this one is more than successful…it shines!

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