Wrekin Hill Entertainment
Reviewed for Shockya.com by Tami Smith, Guest Reviewer
Director: Liv Ullman
Screenwriter: Liv Ullman
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton
Release Date: December 5, 2014
Miss Julie has it all: status, family wealth, nobility, country estate, a valet and a cook. Yet, during one midsummer night in the late 1800s, on a country estate in Ireland, her world comes crashing down after making the wrong move–socializing with the help.
Her valet, John is not your ordinary servant. He is well read, has traveled to parts of the continent and has some upwardly mobile aspirations. Lacking money, he views Miss Julie as his ticket to leaving his present employer and opening a hotel. He and the cook, Christine, have some personal relationship, which at times have a domestic familiarity of marital bliss.
Christine, the cook, works as a servant in the estate and takes care of Miss Julie’s and her dog’s needs. She also behaves in a subordinate ways towards John, serving his meals and preparing his cloths each day. She does not have John’s aspirations and is satisfied with her station in life: serving others while going to church on a regular basis.
Miss Julie is based on a Swedish play, Fröken Julie, written by August Strindberg in 1888. The first version of the play was considered too daring and was censored. Written and directed by Liv Ullman, this creation have been opened to accommodate the cinematic production. Though the original play takes part in a large kitchen, the director extends the action to the estate’s stables and forest areas towards the second half. Some violent scenes hinted in the play are staged for all to see in the cinematic version. The actual sexual relationship hinted in the play are shown here as “post-sex”, where John is washing himself and Miss Julie looking at her underwear trying to hide the evidence.
Colin Farrell plays the part of John, and brings to life a man trying to rise above his station in life by all means necessary. At first he is the perfect obedient valet who sits, stands and fetches like a trained canine, while showing respect, admiration and correctness towards his superior. After getting sexually closer to Miss Julie he lets his hair down, and his polite behavior is replaced with loathing, contempt and physical disgust.
Samantha Morton plays the part of Christine with perfect simplicity. She is a working class person who knows her place in the Upstairs-Downstairs world, and would not cross that threshold. A plain and simple woman, she is religious and worshiping gives her great comfort.
Jessica Chastain plays the part of Miss Julie, which is not as closely defined. It is not clear whether she is a bored aristocrat, raised by her mother to think and act like a man ordering her servants about, or whether she is simply a careless mad woman, wanting to skip town with her father’s money and run away with a servant who will use her to his personal advantage and gain.
Shot at the neo-classical mansion of Castle Coole in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland Miss Julie shows the estate in all its glory, with authentic costumes to boot. Ms. Ullman’s interpretation of Strindberg’s play is beautiful to look at, but at a running time of 129 minutes this production is 30 minutes too long.
Unrated. 129 minutes. © Tami Smith, Guest Reviewer