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Julia PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sheila Seacroft   
11 12 2008

ImageDirected by Erick Zonca

A tale of redemption, a gripping thriller, and a tour de force piece of acting from the ever-amazing Tilda Swinton. Is there nothing this woman can't do? We knew she could do weird, and hard, and clever, and haughty, but here she's a real flesh and blood drunk, clapped out, not too bright, and lonely. (Though with her clear porcelain skin and well-honed body Julia's got to be the most unfeasibly good-looking 40-something alcoholic you're ever likely to come across.)

A frantic beginning introduces her manic lifestyle, self-despising and unprincipled, with a simplistic view of how the world works. Her Hispanic neighbour's daft and desperate idea of kidnapping her estranged son from his wealthy paternal grandfather looks like a good scam, and soon Julia is making her own, slightly different plans for it. But in the way of these things in films it all goes pear-shaped, and Julia finds that trying to extract a heap of money for a bright 8-year-old boy (Aidan Gould, looking alarmingly like a young Alan Davies) while simultaneously on the run is not the breeze she thought it would be.

The second half of the film moves (by way of Julia bursting spectacularly through the infamous boundary wall in her car!) to Mexico, where, unfortunately, we're introduced to several of the customary sweaty stereotypes that Mexico is usually sourced for in Hollywood films. But the action steps up and as Julia finds her priorities are changing, so also do our attitudes towards her. It's a story that in the usual hands could have been very routine, mawkish even, but with the energetic and ever-interesting Swinton at its core, and superior support, in the form of Gould and Saul Rubinek as her ever faithful pal Mitch, it becomes a cut above the usual thriller-with-a-heart. And the second one out in the UK this month (see The Silence of Lorna) with a female at its core that shows it's possible to show moral growth and redemption, without sacrificing the thrills.

Seen at Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle, 6 December 2008

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