Miss Julie Screen 11 articles

Miss Julie


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  • The tone of Ullmann’s Miss Julie is especially unfortunate because the play’s fine dissection of its characters’ hypocrisy can still be felt, whether in Kathleen’s gentle yet callous treatment of a dog forced to receive an abortive remedy, or John’s unresolved mixture of resentment and envy of the ruling class.

  • There are moments when Ullmann, Chastain, and Farrell elicit a thrilling sexual chemistry, a compelling twist of power dynamics, from the play... But when the film resorts to its standard style, cutting back and forth between close-ups of Julie and John delivering lengthy lines of dialogue, the energy fizzles.

  • Characters monologue at each other for two hours. The writing is sufficiently tortured and fascinating to merit sparks of intrigue but, for the most part, Miss Julie is bogged down by the artifice inherent in stage productions. While theatrical devices have been used in cinema to commanding effect, this tends to be when the director spins the medium, as in Lars von Trier’s Dogville. A wholesale replication of theatrical conditions on film is both baffling and visually uninteresting.

  • One can feel the influence of [Ullmann's] mentor Ingmar Bergman in the meticulous staging and the use of close-ups, which seem to scrutinize every inch of the actors' faces for what they might reveal of the characters' inner lives. This is so focused that it may strike some viewers as monotonous, though it's definitely not stodgy; Ullmann always stresses the emotional violence underlying the action.

  • Liv Ullman is not exactly a visionary, but, unsurprisingly, she knows how to direct actors. Throughout her 2-plus hour adaptation of Miss Julie, I found myself wondering why she didn’t just take it to the stage... [But] with her near-equine cheekbones, porcelain skin and scarlet lips, [Chastain] again proves herself a chameleon of unimpeachable range, progressing from sadistic poise to manic ruin after defying rank and falling subject to misplaced passion.

  • When Liv Ullmann's "Miss Julie" works best, it shows us that total emotional and social chaos, chaos that destroys not only the individual characters in the play, but the entire society in which they live. "Miss Julie" is a rather strange experience, with its consistently static medium shots of the three actors, as they roar their lines at one another. But it has an undeniable power.

  • Miss Julie’s acid dialogue and sardonic twists burn down to the bone of costume drama’s fattened arm... Aside from the actors, Ullmann’s other wise decisions was to not dramatize the characters’ remembrances. We never “see” Jean’s time working at a Swiss hotel, and are only given the story he tells. While this may be a refusal to break with theatrical tradition, in reality it just emphasizes how utterly claustrophobic and museum-like this household is.

  • Cinematographer Mikhail Krichman's framing doesn't distract, anchoring itself to the thrust of the performances: Rather than blandly cutting between two speakers during one of the film's many acidic exchanges, the camera holds on Farrell or Chastain until the words escaping their lips seem to break them down. The film's nail-biting, parceled-out hysteria becomes a final-act maelstrom and, ultimately, a tragedy.

  • There are very few “cinematic” moves in Liv Ullmann’s Miss Julie, but every last one lands like a blow, forces you to re-find your footing. Choices carry more weight when there are less of them, and Ullmann doesn’t make any of these choices lightly... There are cuts in this film that feel more violent than the most visceral of horror or action sequences, cuts that are simply from one face to another—from a face of supplication to a face of scorn, from a face of condescension to a face of piety.

  • At her most ferocious, [Ullmann's] M.O. as a director of actors is “Fuck restraint.” And so, here: To hell with it. Morton stands in a door, pacing in principled rage. Farrell does things with his face that don’t seem human and yet are intensely, movingly emotional, and Chastain express-trains from lust to confusion to hysterics to delirium. Her performance culminates in one of the greatest tirades I’ve ever seen.

  • Ullmann, with her Russian cinematographer Mikhail Krichman (Elena, Leviathan), gives a masterclass in mise en scène determined by the rigid social system of decorum – the physical toll exerted by violating it; the momentary, emboldened giddiness that follows the overturning of taboo; and the dangerous, unforeseeable psychological after-effects of the upending transgression, which removes the keystone holding together an entire worldview.

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