Projections - Movie Reviews

Miss Julie Miss Julie

A hot midsummer night of passion and desire in the kitchen of an opulent Count's Swedish estate is the setting for Miss Julie.  This is Mike Figgis' provocative adaptation of August Strindberg's controversial play.  The story takes place in the late 19th century, six years after it was originally written in 1888.

Figgis focuses in on a volatile, ill-fated relationship between the Count's lovely and persuasive daughter, Miss Julie (Saffron Burrows) and Jean (Peter Mullan), the Count's foot servant, as well as Christine (Maria Doyle Kennedy), the Count's cook.

Miss Julie passes into the kitchen and demands the impoverished man dance with her while donning her father's dinner jacket.  A dangerous and lustful one-night stand ensues.  The tension that develops after their wild night is based upon the social status differences between the two lovers.

Figgis retains the biting, claustrophobia nature of the suicidal playwright.  He lets the screen emanate a minimalist style to heighten the battle between the sexes.  Even today's audience can see the relevance and feel the tension as men and woman still manipulate and love one another through their desires just as they did in the late 1800's.

One wishes that Julie's younger days could have been recalled to see how this repressed wealthy woman became an almost nervous wreck as she attempts to state her sexual manipulations.  Burrows does appear to project some sense of trying to remain within her social league, as she's been cooped up in the isolation of aristocracy deep within Sweden.

Mullan, remarkable as a recovering alcoholic in My Name is Joe, stands out as a mercurial and engaging character.  Mullan is ruthless in his ability to reveal Julie's vulnerability and despair.  His scheme to head to Italy and run a hotel by means of the Count's money shows his tact for deviance.

There is a voyeurism created in the film used to penetrate the characters wavering emotions.  However, the director sometimes takes his close-ups and fast cutting to an extreme that almost reverses his "less is more" attitude.

No one really expects Figgis to follow any prescribed literary formats in his daring translation.  He strives to communicate a feel, enhanced by Sandy Powell's un-societal costume designs, that works to the same melancholy effect in this intimate, but too uneven psychological drama.

Miss Julie

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