Miss Julie (2014)

Miss Julie (2014)I assume that the melodramatic machinations of Miss Julie played like gangbusters in 1890s Sweden, but a century later it all rings pretty false. Bergman acolyte Liv Ullmann sneaks in a reference to Cries and Whispers in the opening flashback and executes an excellent final shot, but otherwise can’t overcome the inherent staginess of the story (adapted from August Strindberg’s play).

One might expect something more impressive from the presence of Colin Farrell and Jessica Chastain (who carry what is fundamentally a two-hander, barring some brief appearances from Samantha Morton as Farrell’s fiancé). They play a Baron’s manservant and daughter (the eponymous Julie), respectively, delivering performances that are always committed but never convincing. The problems originate in the screenplay, which lacks emotional integrity. Individual scenes careen from emotion to emotion and even the set-up lacks justification for why midsummer night is such an effective catalyst for the events (yeling, sexing, cleaver-waving) that follow.

Implausible characterisation aside, Miss Julie examines class and gender divisions with the same lack of subtlety as its dialogue (where the characters frequently exclaim things like “I’m so unhappy!”). These themes are – sadly – still relevant, but, like the film itself, cry out for a more nuanced approach.

2 stars

4 thoughts on “Miss Julie (2014)

    • Yeah, that’s a good way of putting it Cindy. Chastain, in particular, truly commits to the role, but it only really works when she just goes completely crazy (which isn’t often enough for it to carry the requisite camp charm). Thanks for the comment!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s