Annette Bening acts till she damn near explodes in this visually impressive, sometimes uneven adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s novel, Theatre
. Bening portrays Julia Lambert, a 45-year-old London stage actress in the 1930s having an affair with a man half her age and suffering a sort of mini breakdown. Bening and director Istvan Szabo do a convincing job of showing how all of the affairs, tantrums, backstabbing and deception wind up simply being a part of the theater process, necessary evils to put on a good show and keep the acting fresh. Jeremy Irons is superb as Michael, Bening’s husband and business manager who is proud of his modern, non-possessive marriage. The film’s major flaw is an underdeveloped gimmick where Julia takes advice and counseling from the ghost of her deceased mentor (Michael Gambon).