Tilda Swinton delivers an excellent performance in Julia, a surprisingly effective drama-thriller about a drunkard's simple kidnapping scheme gone horribly wrong. People looking for something a little different should add this to their Netflix list - it's available on Instant Play - immediately.
Swinton plays the title character, a trashy woman who is obsessed with drinking so much that she routinely wakes up with random men. When she meets a frantic Mexican woman at an AA meeting, who also happens to be her neighbor, the two form an unlikely friendship, especially after the woman promises to pay Julia a lot of money to help her "retrieve" her young son from his father. Julia proceeds to do so, but what started off as a simple plan leads to murder, Mexican gangsters and more.
The movie, directed by Erick Zonca, is delightfully original. The picture is completely unpredictable, adhering to no standard conventions for a crime story such as this. It flips between tragic character study and engaging thriller seamlessly, delivering the best of both worlds. As things progress and spiral out of control, it becomes increasingly unclear how Julia is going to get out of the mess - if she is. This is one of those movies that could just as easily end up with her dead in a ditch as prevailing, which makes it all the more intriguing and tense.
Swinton once again proves she is a force to be reckoned with, and one of the best actresses working today. She singlehandedly carries the film with a character unlike any other she has played thus far. Few actresses have the range she does.
The movie's one pitfall is that it's long. At almost two and a half hours, there are a few stretches in the middle that are slow and unnecessary. A slightly shorter edit would have tightened the narrative and improved the pace.
Still, Julia is an excellent thriller that deserves more recognition than it has received. Highly recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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