May 8, 2009
On the Big Board
|Swinton tries to sell her gritty character too much. Rent Frozen River instead.
After her Oscar win for Michael Clayton, Tilda Swinton has taken on more lustful roles in Burn After Reading and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It was right after Michael Clayton that she worked with French director Erick Zonca on Julia, where Swinton plays the title role of a wild alcoholic.
Unfortunately, the film was hit with budget cuts and the actors became ill with dysentery, afflicting them with severe diarrhea. However Swinton described how the illness actually helped her performance. “Shooting 17-hour days over six-day weeks,” she says, “everybody with dysentery - it made that film. It's not that we made a film about an alcoholic, but that we made an alcoholic film.”
Partying every night, downing obscene amounts of alcohol, having sex in car parks and waking up in the mornings with little recollection as to where you are and how you got there. While this may sound like what your teenage daughter gets up to during university, for 40-something Julia, this is her current life. Her best friend Mitch (Saul Rubinek), a recovering alcoholic himself, persuades her to go to an AA meeting, but not even that helps. She eventually loses her job. One night after some heavy drinking, she passes out in front of her apartment building. Her neighbour Elena (Kate del Castillo) takes her in. The following morning Julia finds herself in Elena's flat. Elena starts to talk about her son Tommy (Aidan Gould), who lives with his wealthy grandfather, because his father died and Elena herself has a history of psychosis. Elena explains that she wants to kidnap her son and go back to Mexico with him. She asks Julia to help, and will pay her $50,000. Julia declines; however, after having a few drinks she accepts… but begins scheming a plan of her own.
The film is supposedly inspired by John Cassavetes’ 1980 film Gloria, where the title character tries to protect a young boy from gangsters. Julia is more of a feel-down series of incidents driven by Julia’s reckless decisions.
The film had a unique release in the UK. In December 2008 it became the first English language film to open simultaneously in cinemas and on Sky Box Office, the UK’s leading digital television provider. Those interested could either take a trip to one of the few limited screenings, or pay £9.99 ($14-$15) to watch at home. The main factor here was that Sky’s pay-per-view channel included the option to watch in HD.
It has also been playing the festival circuit, notably the AFI Film Festival as well as the Berlin International Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Golden Bear. While reviews have been mixed, they are all unanimous about one thing - Swinton’s stellar performance. (Shalimar Sahota/BOP)
Vital statistics for Julia
Tilda Swinton, Saul Rubinek, Kate Del Castillo
Aidan Gould, Jude Cicollela, Bruno Bichir, Horacio Garcia Rojas, Gaston Peterson, Mauricio Moreno, Kevin Kilner, John Bellucci, Ezra Buzzington, Roger Cudney, Eugene Byrd, Sandro Kopp
Aude Py, Erick Zonca
|Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture