Friday 05 December 2008
There's a deluded, unhinged character at the heart of Julia - Erick Zonca's barely disguised tribute to John Cassavetes's 1980 film Gloria.
Then, it was Gena Rowlands on the run from the Mob in Manhattan. Here, it's Tilda Swinton playing a washed-up actress in Los Angeles, so lost to booze that she can wake up in a stranger's car with her dress pushed up to her waist. Brittle and blowsy, Swinton's Julia is one of those performances that goes so far in repelling audience sympathy that it comes out the other side looking almost admirable. I don't think I've seen anyone do hangovers quite so nakedly: the fried-egg eyes, the pallid skin, the look of bewilderment are so spot-on you could believe she really is feeling the morning-after. (A nice irony: Swinton is no drinker, just like Richard E Grant, another famous dipsomaniac in Withnail and I.)
Prompted by a one-time alcoholic friend (Saul Rubinek), Julia finds herself at an AA meeting where she runs into Elena (Kate del Castillo), a woman even more desperate than she is. Elena wants to recover her young son from his plutocrat grandfather and enlists Julia in a kidnap scheme, which almost immediately goes wrong. On the run and hiding out in scuzzy motel rooms, Julia keeps the boy, Tom (Aidan Gould), bound and terrified; she's decided this could be a get-rich-quick scam, though her lack of criminal savvy is perhaps less comic than writer-director Zonca seems to think. He is preparing us for Julia's change of heart, but her force-feeding the boy sleeping pills and letting him wander alone through the desert aren't easily forgotten.
Zonca, who's struggled to finance his work since his cult 1999 hit The Dream Life of Angels, spends the first half spooling out too much rope to his title character, then crosses into Mexico for a thriller denouement. Neither half is satisfactory, though Swinton's impersonation of a woman on the edge of a breakdown will leave no one indifferent. If you encountered that mongoose stare in real life, you'd duck for cover.
filmWith more than 70% of early films lost, archivists are turning to science to preserve the few examples that remain
NFL fans were so loud during a match that their celebrations registered as a minor earthquake
Tyre firm aimed to show how their tyres would perform in ‘unexpected’ conditions
Arts & Ents blogs
John Williams' Stoner wins Waterstones Book of the Year
Paul Walker death: Filming of Fast and Furious 7 on hold following death of actor
Bad Sex in Fiction award 2013: Manil Suri’s subatomic bisexual orgy in The City of Devi beats hillbilly humping to award
Ten adverts that shocked the world
Christmas TV 2013: Downton Abbey special details revealed
- 1 John Williams' Stoner wins Waterstones Book of the Year
- 2 The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are 'better at map reading'
- 3 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 4 Food poverty in UK has reached level of 'public health emergency', warn experts
- 5 I’m sure Kate Moss doesn't care about posing for Playboy. But I do