Julia - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Julia Reviews

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½ May 20, 2017
Tilda Swinton has no vanity. She is a fearless actress without the technical polish of Meryl Streep, but I have more of a direct emotional connection to her. Swinton's strikingly androgynous features make her appear simultaneously beautiful and ugly so that she becomes more appealing than conventional movie stars. Nothing Swinton has done before can prepare us for her performance as Julia, a self-destructive alcoholic and compulsive liar who beds various men while in a drunken stupor. After an encounter with a Mexican woman at an alcoholics anonymous meeting, she schemes out of desperation to kidnap the woman's son from the grandfather for a ransom. The plot twists into an unexpected thriller leading Julia to Mexico where she confronts kidnappers there, transforming her into a protective mother. Known for portraying controlled characters, Swinton has the range to show us a woman who is capable of being callous and sympathetic. Julia's heedless actions are often reprehensible but the electrifying Swinton has a veritable ambivalence that is astonishing. This is an uncompromising portrayal of an apathetic heroine that doesn't resort to simplistic redemption. Our feelings about Julia are unresolved but her fortitude is affecting. Every aspect of Swinton's acting is surprising. Its one of the great performances of recent years. Saul Rubinek is superb as Julia's only forthright friend. Kate del Castillo overacts as the mother. Aidan Gould is compelling as the boy considering the distress he is put through. The movie goes on much longer than it needs to and its hard not to resent seeing the exploitation of a child. Heavily influenced by Cassavetes' "Gloria." Directed by Erick Zonca. Written by Zonca and Audey Py.
½ January 23, 2017
If Julia (Tilda Swinton) were stranded on a desert island and there were a pair of signs reading "rescue" and "continue self-destructing habits" directing her toward opposite ends of the isle, she'd go with the latter. Because Julia, a floozy of a redhead and a shameless pathological liar, is a disaster. She's cranky, messy, and foul. She talks just to talk, fucks just to fuck. She hits up her local bar every night, guzzling liquor until she reaches euphoric blackout. She brings a man home with such recurrence, too - doesn't matter who it is. The cycle continues without end.
Julia'd seem more like a caricature of alcoholism if she weren't promptly fired from her job and on the brink of bankruptcy shortly after we first meet her. Perhaps there was a time during which she could handle herself and didn't have to escape into the throes of a drunken stupor to make herself feel something. But at this point in her middle-age is she far past the line that designates a return to normalcy. She needs to make a change, and fast.
But, alas, "Julia" is not a film about an alcoholic's recovery but an alcoholic's humorously pathetic digging of themselves deeper into a hole of trouble. That trouble, strange and scheming, finds our heroine at an AA meeting. And that trouble is Elena (Kate del Castillo), a mentally unstable woman fixated on getting custody of her young son, Tom (Aidan Gould). Being the loose cannon that she is, the authorities prefer the boy stay with his entrepreneur grandfather. Elena won't have it - she's incapable of recognizing her psychological unsteadiness and is determined to bring her child back with her to Mexico by any means necessary, even if those means turn her into a tabloid baiting kidnapper.
But after finding Julia passed out in someone's front yard in the earliest hours of the morning, Elena sees opportunity. She sees a desperate woman with a fondness for the bottle and with the tendency to keep her head on a little crooked. So she takes the woman to her apartment and does the unthinkable - asks if Julia, who can barely get through a minute of the day not under the influence, would agree to participate in her son's kidnapping for a hefty $50,000. At first, Julia scoffs at the idea. But some time later does she reach the epiphany that $50,000 is a sum dreams are made of and that being jobless, loveless, and aimless are ugly things to be and that pretending to be a smooth criminal instead of a loser might give her the sense of purpose she's been lacking for so long.
The rest of "Julia's" epic run time is dedicated to her maneuverings of messed-up criminality, which, to a certain degree, run with a humorous edge that make Swinton's protagonist the accidental screwball comedy heroine who never was. Co-writer and director Erick Zonca certainly pities the woman, but he pities her in such a way that makes it clear that he's more fascinated with her self-destruction than he is with attempting to empathize with her dejection.
Much of the film rings similarly to John Cassavetes' brilliant "Gloria" (1980), the street smart black comedy that saw grizzled moll Gena Rowlands protecting a young boy from the mob. Comparative are the central relationships of both films, but "Julia's" the more schematically intriguing of the two, if only because we trust Gloria's judgments and are confident in her ability to outsmart the baddies who chase after her and her unwilling sidekick around like rabid foxes. Julia, in the meantime, is an unpredictable embodiment of the downward spiral, and we find ourselves glued to the screen simply because seeing exactly where she and Tom are heading next is always a gamble. Zonca propels that masterfully nervous energy with all his might, harnessing the powers of Swinton's phenomenal performance and the shifty locales to guide the urgency he so painstakingly portrays.
As the title character, Swinton, of course, is exceptional. Arguably, this is her greatest performance. Taking her reputation as the most fearless leading lady in show business to startling heights, she strips herself of all inhibitions and leaves herself susceptible to our judgments for the movie's exhaustive two-and-a-half hours. Julia is a deplorable woman, but Swinton, so guileless, makes her Julia the kind of iconic cinematic figurehead who reminds one of Monica Vitti in "Red Desert" (1964), Faye Dunaway in "Network" (1976), and Rowlands in "A Woman Under the Influence" (1974) - her role proves itself to be the serious actress's dream the minute it lifts off and we're carried away by its embodied looseness.
Gould, as the child Julia kidnaps, is pivotal, too, but "Julia" is Swinton's movie and maybe also Zonca's: both pursue a type of greatness difficult to achieve and yet attain it remarkably. Radical, blunt, and visceral, "Julia" exemplifies the limitless capacities of storytelling, acting, and directing. Whether you take to it is all a matter of how compelled you are by its eponymous heroine. Thankfully, Swinton and Zonca make it easy.
½ November 24, 2016
Tild Swinton shows us she can be a one woman show. She plays the titular character, Julia, an alcoholic hot mess who loses her job and owes everyone money. After taking a job to kidnap a mother's son from his rich and probably racist grandfather, she changes the plan and goes in deeper. And then it gets even more interesting as the film goes on. At a long 144 minutes, it flew by due to the dark humour, the performances, and the general grittiness of the film. It never has a false beat, and I truly enjoyed this interesting little crime thriller.
September 2, 2016
Tilda Swinton plays a Bukowski type alcoholic who never hits bottom exactly, but rather dives relentlessly like a jackhammer down that proverbial spiral into a legendary performance that will never be appreciated enough.
February 6, 2016
I'm confused. It seems Tilda's Julia has been mishmashed with the Julia movie I was checking up on. Even the cast is bleeding over into this horror movie into the 2009 Tilda Swinton movie (which I saw in 2009 and liked very much). Viewers may be sorely confused. I'm glad I didn't pay 4.99 for the OnDemand Julia... expecting Julia.
September 21, 2015
Julia, as a whole, is a little bit of a mess. It runs at about two and a half hours (a length usually reserved for masterpieces and extremely experimental works), half of it seems improvised, and its themes generally don't coalesce as well as they should, the film lurching from location to location in an effort to find some way to get Julia out of her insane situation all while attempting to address the subtleties imbued in the script. All that aside, it functions brilliantly as a vehicle for Swinton's unbelievable performance, allowing her to exhibit a range that is honestly jaw-dropping (that this performance went largely unrecognized by the awards circuit is ludicrous). Her manic Julia enables the film entirely, and elevates the proceedings to a place that is often riveting, overcoming its flaws in the process.
½ April 22, 2015
a completely unlikeable character with a lot of anxiety around child abduction. why did tilda swinton take this role?
August 15, 2014
Unexpectedly intense.
July 27, 2014
Tilda's performance is off the charts....!
½ July 21, 2014
If you like Tilda Swinton, make a point to see this. Amazing performance.
½ June 4, 2014
Totally unexpectedly great.
May 30, 2014
wow.....brilliant.....amazing.....i have just seen this movie 4 the 1st time n think that this is a great movie 2 watch.....its got a good cast of actors/actressess throughout this movie......i think that Jude Ciccolella, Kate del Castillo, saul rubinek (from the brilliant tv series warehouse 13), Aidan Gould, Tilda Swinton, play good roles/parts thorughout this movie.......i think that the director of this drama/art house/international/mystery/suspense movie had done a great job of directing this movie because you never know what 2 expect throughout this movie.......i think that this is such a really powerful drama movie 2 watch.......i think that saul rubinek was great throughout this movie.......its got good car chases throughout this movie.......its got good fight scenes thorughout this movie......i think that this is such a really powerful drama movie 2 watch.......i think that this is such a really well written/acted/directed movie 2 watch........i think that this is such an absolutley brilliant movie 2 watch its got a great cast throughout this movie.....i think that tilda swinton was great throughout this movie......i think that this is such an enjoyable thriller movie 2 watch.......its got good car chases thorughout this movie......i think that this is such a really powerful drama movie 2 watch.,.....i think that Kate del Castillo as Elena, was brilliant throughout this movie........i think that Ezra Buzzington as George, was great throughout this movie......i think that this is such a thrilling movie 2 watch as you never know what 2 expect throughout this movie......i think that this is such a really powerful drama movie 2 watch its such a really powerful drama movie 2 watch its got a great cast throughout this movie......i think that this is such an enjoyable movie 2 watch its got a great cast throughout this movie its such a brilliant movie 2 watch with a good cast throughout this movie........
October 18, 2013
Tilda Swinton at her best!
September 10, 2013
Tilda Swinton is great.
August 7, 2013
There are few actresses working today who are as spellbinding to watch as Tilda Swinton. It has taken me far too long to watch what may be her most gripping performance so far in âJulia,â? a thriller that immediately draws you in, and then dares you to look away.

Julia Harris (Tilda Swinton) is an alcoholic who spends her nights partying at bars and nightclubs, only to wake up in bed next to strange men in the morning. She has very little self respect, and early in the film she loses her job. Her only friend Mitch (Saul Rubinek) is an ex-alcoholic who helps her out financially, but threatens to cut her off after she is fired, unless she goes to AA meetings to get help for her drinking problem. It is at one of these meetings where she meets Elena, an unstable woman who asks Julia for help in a scheme to kidnap her 11-year-old son Tom (Aidan Gould), who was taken away from her to live with his wealthy grandfather.

In return for her help, Elena tells Julia that she can pay her $50,000, which she claims is a portion of a large inheritance she has received. After much contemplation, Julia decides that the money outweighs any consequence, but of course the half-baked plan goes from the start, and Julia ends up on the run in Mexico with Tom tied up in her trunk, and a gun that she struggles to figure out how to load.

At one point in the film, Mitch confronts Julia about her choice to go along with Elenaâ(TM)s plot to get her son back. He says, âWe all knew that Elenaâ(TM)s stupid, insane story about getting her kid back was bullshit, we heard it over and over again at meetings. Why is it that you were the only one that believed her?â? Julia is not a stupid woman, but a desperate one who gets in over her head. We do not like Julia, we do not sympathize with her, and we want her to pay the price for what she has done. But there are times when we somehow want her to get through this ordeal in one piece, and of course, we hope see poor Tom returned safely to his grandfather.

This is the first work I have seen by French filmmaker Erick Zonka, and it wonâ(TM)t be the last. His direction is sharp and revealing, as he stages some astonishing scenes of tension, urgency and realism. The script by Zonka and Aude Py is incredibly sincere, the cinematography by Yorick Le Saux is superb, and the U.S. and Mexico locations give the whole experience the stark authenticity that is requires. It is hard not to believe everything that happens to Julia in the film, as it all seems so inevitable based on the choices she makes. That is great screenwriting, and why Swinton likely decided to take on such a challenging and bitter role. There is an interesting story going on in âJulia,â? and the central character is caught in a web of debt and self-deceit, which she turns outward at the chance to get some money and to turn her luck and her life around.

Taking on this complex character, Swinton is a force beyond all categories. Aside from much of her earlier work, I have seen most of the films she has doneâ"I still need to find the time to watch âI Am Loveâ? and âBroken Flowersâ?â"and she has never once done something that is any less than interesting. This may be her finest performance yet, from what I have seen, and that is saying a lot. Consider her Oscar winning work in âMichael Clayton,â? her hilarious performance in âBurn After Readingâ? and her scene-stealing work in both âThe Curious Case of Benjamin Buttonâ? and the action-horror movie âConstantine.â? Connecting the dots, I think that we can expect more great things from Swinton.

Why this stunning, pulse-pounding film did not garner more attention when it was released in 2008 puzzles me, but should anyone feel uncertain about its accessibility, rest assured that âJuliaâ? is as approachable as any great mainstream thriller in recent years, and on top of that, it stars Tilda Swinton. You just canâ(TM)t go wrong.
June 9, 2013
My wife and I watched this for movie night after it was selected for Ebertfest 2013. This is a difficult movie to like, as the main character is repugnant at best, but Swinton's performance is just so gutsy it's hard not to admire her. I loved a lot about this (although I always hate when accents slip) and I especially loved the ending.
May 2, 2013
Wow, things didn't turn out so well for the PM of Australia's clone. Alcoholic Tilda Swinton kidnaps Luke Dunphy's brother in this "nerve-wracking thriller with a twisty plot and startling realism." "In a sense, it goes to all the places a sensitive character study might have gone, but more dramatically, convincingly and vividly." Fans of Swinton, noir and kidnap films should check it out. "tense and juicy noir, Tilda Swinton plays the title role with a crusty panache"
½ March 30, 2013
It's worth seeing for power of Tilda's performance. I wish the director and editor would have shown more restraint though.
March 20, 2013
Given any normal circumstances, nobody other than Tilda Swanston can make this desperate alcoholic woman with no moral nor human feelings credible. There is not a second throughout the 120 minutes running time to hint that Tilda is acting. Tilda embodies Julia, in greatness. Full stop. The kidnapping of a child brings the story to Mexico, where things got really rough. It makes your heart beats faster from anxiety. Didn't like how the movie ends though.
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