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12/03/14 5:00am
12/03/2014 5:00 AM |

Photo courtesy of Wrekin Hill Entertainment

 

Miss Julie
Directed by Liv Ullmann
Opens December 5 at the Landmark Sunshine

Let’s be clear for the uninitiated: Miss Julie’s acid dialogue and sardonic twists burn down to the bone of costume drama’s fattened arm, its darkness closer to original-series Upstairs Downstairs than to polished one-percenter porno Downton Abbey. Adapting Strindberg’s classic naturalist play, Liv Ulmann transposes the Swedish setting to rural Northern Ireland: amidst the bacchanalia of midsummer’s eve, the baron’s daughter Miss Julie (Jessica Chastain) aggressively flirts with her father’s handsome valet Jean (Colin Farrell); initially resistant, Jean escalates these exchanges, and their mutual transgression blurs the boundaries between master and servant. The “perverseness” of this act is underscored not only by their subsequent cruelty towards each other, but by Jean’s pious fiancée Christine (Samantha Morton), who is repeatedly told to go to bed (like a good little doggie) or locked away in a room while overhearing everything. (She eventually gets out and gives them both a stern but futile talking to.)

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