Critical Essay Miss Julie

Set in the 1880s, Victorian-era morality and propriety are quickly discarded, along with caution and clothes, as one long, hot summer night is overtaken by sweltering libidos.

If only “Miss Julie” could have shed the strictures of the stage as easily. A winsome Julie (Chastain) taunts and tempts John (Farrell), her father’s handsome serving man.

Whether he was providing other artistic input at the time, the performances and plot in “Faithless” meshed, and the magnetic pull between actors remained strong.“Miss Julie” is not so fortunate.

Despite a scattering of wonderfully wrought moments, there is far more disconnection than connection.

Watching Farrell’s attitude adjustments as John reacts to each of the women is like witnessing a chameleon change colors.

Pragmatic Kathleen and presumptuous Julie may be divided by social class, but they are both women on a mission.

Director Liv Ullmann — whose best work behind the camera remains 2000’s “Faithless,” written by the late great Ingmar Bergman — begins with a potent troika of stars in Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton.

These are always exciting actors to watch, well equipped to handle the intensity and intimacy of August Strindberg’s passion play, which Ullmann adapts all too faithfully.

The patriarchal world of August Strindberg’s dour late-19th-century tragedy “Miss Julie” — with its rigid social hierarchy of masters and servants, and its entrenched puritanical ethos — may seem remote to Americans.

But when you remember that there are still societies in which men rule with an iron hand, and women are stoned to death for breaking convention, it doesn’t seem so distant.


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