Julia

Movies
3 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Boozed to the gills, bleary-eyed and bumbling into the nearest bar at noon, Julia (Swinton) is what you’d charitably call a career floozy; she appears to be stuck on a walk-of-shame treadmill. Only a truly gin-addled brain would think that the offer made by a mentally unstable neighbor (Del Castillo)—$50K if Julia will kidnap the woman’s son, whom she’s forbidden to see—is an opportunity for easy money. But our inebriated heroine takes the bait, nabs the boy (Gould) and ambitiously tries to bilk his rich grandfather in the process. Things naturally go from bad to worse, at least until Julia and her reluctant companion wind up South of the Border; that’s when the situation escalates to downright disastrous.

Those of us who’ve been waiting for French director Zonca to make good on the promise of his 1998 debut, The Dreamlife of Angels, won’t feel as if our patience has been rewarded, especially once this extended character-study-cum-thriller trades in working-class naturalism for lowest-genre denominators. (The sense that Zonca’s sole instruction to cinematographer Yorick Le Saux before every scene was “Even more light flare!” doesn’t help matters.) He does have the good sense to allow Swinton free rein, which makes all of the difference; watching the actor broadly wallow in human ugliness before turning into a red-maned mama lion single-handedly redeems this exercise in semigratuitous grit. She doesn’t craft a performance so much as turn into Hurricane Tilda, obliterating everything in her path. Nothing, least of all Zonca’s haphazard attempts at pathos-driven drama, can keep up with her.

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Cast and crew

Director:
Erick Zonca
Cast:
Tilda Swinton
Saul Rubinek
Kate del Castillo
Aidan Gould

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