This adaptation carries the same uneven tones as the play of 1888, attempting as it does to prove that human nature can rocket between moods and motivations at a moment’s notice. Farrell’s butler John is psychopathic and pathetic, Chastain’s Miss Julie fragile and fierce, and the audience is never quite sure who the film’s fickle storyline belongs to.
This weakness is remedied when Ullman plays spacious Irish landscapes against the claustrophobia of Victorian class and gender; the result is suffocating, slow-burn horror, and we’re asked to look at all of it under a microscope.
A film which aims to leave a bad taste in your mouth, for Miss Julie the question is whether that’s a fatal flaw or an unrelenting examination of the ugly human heart.
CAST: Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton
DIRECTOR: Liv Ullman
WRITERS: Liv Ullman (adaptation), August Strindberg (play)
SYNOPSIS: On an midsummer night in Ireland, 1890, the capricious daughter of an aristocrat plays seductive mind games with her father’s valet, unaware of the consequences that will unfold.