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Liv Ullman gets just about everything wrong in her slow, heavy, inert
adaptation of "Miss Julie." The play needs white hot intensity; she
kills its momentum with portentous silences. It needs the
claustrophobia of its kitchen setting; she dissipates this by "opening
it up" as you're supposedly required to do when filming plays, taking
it down corridors and outdoors. It needs an atmosphere of raucous
midsummer revelry right outside the windows, with the revelers at one
point invading the kitchen; she lets us hear them, briefly, but
otherwise the three characters seem to be the last people on earth.
Instead of merry folk dancing, which provides an ironic counterpoint in
the original, we get a string trio playing tasteful Schubert adagios.
Jessica Chastain is well cast and, when allowed to come to life, very
good, as is Samantha Morton, but Colin Farrell is misdirected; his Jean
("John" in this version) lacks the charm and sardonic humor that would
make the character compelling. For no good reason the play is relocated
to Ireland, a setting Ullmann makes no use of. (I guess it's to justify
the actors' brogues.) Strindberg sets a clock going right from the
start, so that the proceedings carry tremendous urgency; Ullman drains
all the tension out of it so it plods drearily. The worst thing you can
do in adapting any work is drape it in the deadening mantle of a
"classic." There's nice decor, costumes and cinematography to gaze at,
but don't let this be your introduction to Strindberg's electrifying
Tags for Miss Julie Full Movie
, Jessica Chastain
, Nora McMenamy
, Samantha Morton
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