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Star - Tilda Swinton
Run Time - 2 hours 44minutes!
Genre - Drama
Country - USA
Cert - 15
You have to say that Tilda Swinton is one spectacular lady and a great British actress, perhaps even better than the token Oscar to her name to date, awarded for Best Supporting role in the tedious George Clooney vehicle Michael Clayton. The strikingly androgynous looking thespian comes from fine Scottish stock, her military father having more letters before and after his name than Prince Charles, her mother Lady Balfour by title. But in contrast our Tilda lives a really bohemian lifestyle up in those same Highlands, educated with a Political Science degree from Cambridge and a fully paid up member of the Communism Party, no less, her sex life as equally colorful. She is married to a Scottish painter who she has twins with but travels the world to make those films with a German lover, and with her husbands blessing. She was once a performance art piece, sleeping naked in a glass cases for a week in the Serpentine Gallery. What a gal!
Swinton is one of those actresses that most people just can't relate to as she is so different and so appears pretentious. Playing with her androgyny on screen works in some movies but just makes her look like a lesbian in most of those films. In 'Julia', at least she looks sexy and delivers an excellent American accent to accompany that femininity. She tends to avoid popcorn stuff and so pick low and mid-budget films to get her craft across and so the viewer always understands that when they go to see her films in the cinema or rent her DVDs. Big Hollywood movies and mansions are not her style. Its almost as if her Oscar in 2007 was for a safe performance becauise Hollywood wanted to give her an Oscar a long time ago but just dont understand where she is coming from, which could be another planet.
Julia is based on the Nick Casavettes film 'Gloria', like that one a tale of female emancipation and the strength of the female species in a crisis when intent not to seek male help for rescue. The fact that both films are directed by a bloke contradicts that somewhat but who's counting? Eric Zonka is the man behind the camera here.
* Tilda Swinton as Julia
* Aidan Gould as Tom
* Saul Rubinek as Mitch
* Kate del Castillo as Elena
* Jude Ciccolella as Nick
* Bruno Bichir as Diego
* Kevin Kilner as Johnny
* Ezra Buzzington as George
* Eugene Byrd as Leon
Julia (Swinton), a pretty thirty something California party girl, is an alcoholic and often far worse, ending up in all manner of strange men's beds and situations after yet another night on the sauce. Her reckless behavior has got out of control of late and cost her yet another job.
At an AA meeting she meets Elena (Kate del Castillo), the pair again meeting the following night when Julia is passed out near a bar and so Elena takes her home to sleep it off on the couch. The following morning, somewhat randomly, Elena explains that she wants to kidnap her 10-year-old son Tom (Aidan Gould) from his wealthy grandfather and asks Julia to participate, a payment forthcoming of $50,000 if she does. After some soul searching and the fact the rent is due and she is behind on her car payments she begrudgingly agrees.
The plan is for Julia to drive to a town near the Mexican border and grab him there, the little boy soon in the boot and the blackmail demand sent to Elena's father-in-law for a sum of $2 million for his return. Hiding out in a Nevada motel the police are soon on to them, Julia fleeing across the desert and accidentally crashing her car through the wall dividing United States and Mexico, as you do, this felony no longer in US jurisdiction.
Although Julia has no experience with young children the bond with the kid attentively grows as he slowly see's her for the pathetic wreck she is as they drive around Mexico. But how to get the two million dollars now that they are on the wrong side of the border? Things are further complicated when local bandits try to kidnap the boy from her, an irony not lost on Julia, especially as she doesn't have any money left, her plan to resolve the crisis even more chaotic now than when she got her here.
Although the story is pretty dull and unlikely at times the performance by Swinton is excellent and the only reason to watch this. As I say she is not appreciated by the Academy for taking in these brave and varied roles with this one failing to even make the BAFTA shortlist. Clearly her face doesn't fit because she doesn't play the politics and hype game so to get nominations at the big awards. But how can you not like that attitude?
The film has good tempo and atmosphere as the relationship builds between Julia and the child, presumably the films main point being that even a strong female that has no intention of letting kids into her life can be maternal when called upon, a genetic instinct that enables the human race to continue. I suppose the films strongest theme is its feminism and a dusty red sand road movie paying homage to Thelma & Louise in some way for director Eric Zonka. But it does lose its way sometimes at the films many crossroads. It needed a little more tension and when the tension did come it was from unrealistic situations.
All the male characters are two dimensional passives or violent thugs and so Swinton can steal every scene to much away at the scenery out of the car window. In fact Swinton is the most masculine figure in the film. But the movie is not too bad and smart enough to ring it in the TV listings if you like your drama to be the stuff the uneducated classes don't watch .... that type of film. My reccomendation would see it just for Tilda Swintons performance as she is clearly a national treasure.
Imdb.com - 6.9 out of 10.0 (2,990 votes)
Metacritic.com - 62% critics approval rating
Rottentomatos.com - 74% critics approval rating
Radio Times -
Leonard Maltin Film Year Boom -
The LA Times - "It's the slow burn of Swinton's idiosyncratic but engrossing interpretation of this unlikely heroine that holds the movie together and provides an end result that is both affecting and teasingly different".
New England Times -" Swinton masterfully pours much more than her heart into her drunken damsel in distress role, in this gin drenched drama. But the audience is unfortunately left to languish without a clue, as to how she ended up that way and who she may be when sober.
The Times - "It's simply impossible to imagine Eric Zonca's Julia, a noirish thriller and sharp character study inspired by Cassavetes' Gloria, without Tilda Swinton, who dominates the film from start to finish"
The Guardian -" Charles Bukowski would have loved this foul-mouthed, fiery, reckless woman. Against all odds and common sense, you will, too".
Academy Award® winner Tilda Swinton gives an utterly compelling performance as a woman on the edge playing a dangerous game in this tense and riveting thriller. Fired from her job, broke and with her judgement clouded by too many vodka shots, Julia hits rock bottom and hatches a reckless plan to kidnap the 8 year-old grandson of a wealthy businessman and hold the boy to ransom. But she finds herself totally unprepared for life as a fugitive with a terrified child in tow, and events soon spiral wildly out of control. With both the authorities and a brutal criminal gang on her tail, a desperate Julia finds herself locked in a deadly fight for survival. Special Features: Interview with Tilda Swinton.