Jessica Chastain plays “Miss Julie,” a highborn lady of the Anglo-Irish gentry on a downward trajectory. Colin Farrell plays “Jean,” a lowly manservant reaching up for the stars. He is charming; she is unhinged.
Liv Ullmann is one of the great actresses of her era, but has never found her footing as a director. So why would she even want to do yet another version of this misogynistic nightmare? I am baffled. (JLH: 3/5)
Written & directed by Liv Ullmann based on an 1888 play by August Strindberg. Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku. NOT YET SEEN BY RICH.
Top Photo: “Miss Julie” (Jessica Chastain) starts out flirting with “Jean” (Colin Farrell).
Bottom Photo: But in the end, he completely humiliates her 🙁
Photo Credits: Helen Sloan
In Strindberg’s original, there is a small role for Christine, the cook who hopes to marry Jean. To her credit, Ullmann has cast wonderful Samantha Morton in the role, and beefed it up considerably.
Early on, Christine and Miss Julie discuss Miss Julie’s pet dog. The dog is pregnant and Miss Julie wants Christine to poison her. Christine does as she is told–what choice does she have?–but the dose she uses is too small to actually kill the dog, and while Miss Julie and Jean do their endless dance downstairs, Christine nurses the suffering dog upstairs.
In Strindberg’s original, we never know what happens to the dog. In Ullman’s adaptation, we are made to feel somewhat confident that she lives, albeit after a long painful night. As Christine comforts the dog, her whimpering is also used to express Christine’s suffering, especially once Christine realizes what Miss Julie and Jean are really up to…
In the morning, Christine gets as much revenge as her position allows in a brutal speech aimed directed at Miss Julie. Then she leaves for church.
There is no actual dog placed on the stage in Strindberg’s original text, so adding her is Ullmann’s best move as writer/director.