Jane Fonda received her third Oscar nomination for playing famous playwright Lillian Hellman, in Julia.
Although the film is called Julia, the film is about Lillian Hellman. Lillian is a struggling writer, who will soon be the acclaimed writer she has come to be known. Even though the film is about Lillian, it's all concerning Julia. Lillian and Julia are lifelong friends, pretty much soul-mates. Julia becomes an activist in Europe, while Lillian begins to write her first play.
Jane Fonda plays Lillian with the up-most understanding. She understands Lillian misses Julia, and is struggling with her writing. The beach scenes in particular are when Jane shines, the frustration of writer's block and her worries are brilliantly played.
Then we get the flashbacks with Julia where they both do nice work. The problem with these scenes are Lillian is supposed to come off as naive, and Jane Fonda, as good as an actress she is, didn't convince me she was ever naive. But, I did believe that Lillian had a deep fascination for Julia.
Jane Fonda is always great though. The scene in the cafe is proof. Jane stays quiet, and let's Vanessa Redgrave command the scene, but our focus is always on Jane to see how she will react to Julia.
The ending scenes are clearly the best though. After someone very close dies, Lillian is heartbroken and determined to find something for this close friend. Fonda is devastating in these scenes as she tries to find this thing.
I wanted to love Jane Fonda's performance, but there's always something keeping me from fully enjoying her performance. Maybe because while it's nice work, it's not mind blowing or amazing.
Overall, Jane Fonda gives a nice, demanding performance of a struggling writer who has a deep love for her best friend. She shines in some scenes, and in some, she seems just fine to me.