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Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell star in Liv Ullman’s Miss Julie.

2.5 out of 4 stars

Written by
Liv Ullman
Directed by
Liv Ullman
Starring
Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton
Country
USA
Language
English

The late Ingmar Bergman's muse, actress Liv Ullmann, has a wealth of acting and a few directing credits to her name (Faithless, Private Confessions).

Ullmann's experience as protégé to the cinema's most profound dramatist, and a talented cast (Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton) raised early hopes she could find a fresh take on playwright August Strindberg's canonical 1888 play about the tortured relationship between a spoiled heiress and her family valet.

Ullmann has transplanted the play, set over the course of a Midsummer Night's Eve revelries, to a baronial castle in late-19th century Ireland, for no particular purpose except to provide the cast with a reasonably uniform accent.

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The film is visually bland, with only a couple of bookending outdoor sequences around a handful of interior sets.

Chastain as the headstrong Julie and Farrell as the self-loathing servant John have a few pulse-raising scenes, but they only partly convey the tragic depth of the couple's entanglement. More vivid is a deliberately dowdy Samantha Morton as the cook and John's fiancée, Kathleen, who is the appalled witness to these deadly upstairs-downstairs games.

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