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JULIA, 2008
Movie Reviews!

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JULIA,   MOVIE POSTERJULIA, 2008
Movie Reviews

Directed by Erick Zonca

Cast: Tilda Swinton, Saul Rubinek, Kate del Castillo, Adrian Gould
Review by Jarred Thomas


SYNOPSIS:

Julia is a drunk. She loses her job in real estate and at an A.A. meeting meets a neighbor, Elena, an addled Mexican woman who talks about having lots of money and a plan to kidnap her own son from the boy's grandfather, a wealthy businessman. Elena wants Julia's help. Julia says yes with her own plan to do this alone. Following Elena's plan, Julia manages to grab the boy, Tom, who's about 10. Now what? She asks for a ransom. Tom's grandfather and his money are connected directly to Mexican drug trafficking, so Julia is up against long odds. Will anyone make it out alive?

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REVIEW:

Inspired by John Cassavettes’s Gloria, Julia is a mesmerizing story of a perpetual partier who becomes involved in a dangerous kidnapping to exhort money using a boy as bait. Erick Zonca creates a noirish atmosphere in this character study with Swinton putting on a standout performance.

She is captivating from start to finish and never misses a beat. While some may have trouble with the plot, finding it a bit disturbing and exploitive, especially scenes that involve the little boy being tied up at gun point; others may become enthralled with the story thanks in large part to Swinton.

Getting drunk in the evenings and waking up in unknown homes with no memory of the night previous might start to take its toll on some, and Julia is no different. Her wild ways costs her a job and she starts losing money. While at an AA meeting she meets a mother named Elena (Castillo) who tells Julia she plans on kidnapping her own son from her grandfather and hold him for ransom. She promises to cut Julia in on $50,000 if she helps. Although initially reluctant to join, Julia’s desperation leads her into working with Elena in kidnapping her child.

Erick Zonca creates a film that’s more style over substance. The cinematography provides an appealing look to the film making up for the any misgivings the film has, and it has a few. For one, despite Swinton’s excellent performance, there’s nothing redeemable about her character. The ending is not so much a completion of her character arch, but feels more like a moment of convenience. Her moment of redemption in the end was not earned.

But Julia is still a compelling character and Swinton is just absolutely fearless. Actors like Swinton, which would include Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett, are more concerned with telling their character’s story as honestly and faithfully as they can, than they are about money or preserving their reputation. They dive into the role embracing every part of the character, good or bad. Tilda Swinton is Julia.

The plot of Julia is simply implausible. But I enjoyed it all the same. Is Julia a likeable character? No. Watching the way she treats the boy is difficult. You find yourself cringing at times. But in comparison to the other people involved, she’s the best thing the boy has going for him, and for that reason, you root for Julia to protect the boy and make sure he gets to safety.

Julia can be convoluted at times and while the story lacks believability, there are plenty of compelling and gripping moments that feel realistic enough to sustain your interest. Not only is Swinton good, but the supporting cast as well does a terrific job. The film may have its flaws, but the actors put on such an exceptional performance that it warrants more credit and recognition. Julia is certainly worth your time, and if you never noticed her before, Tilda Swinton will become a name you’ll remember in the future.

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