Directed By: Liv Ullmann
Written By: Liv Ullmann
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton
Synopsis: Over the course of a midsummer night in Fermanagh in 1890, an unsettled daughter of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy encourages her father’s valet to seduce her…
Why It Could Succeed:
The Chastain Factor. 2014 is going to be a mammoth year for Jessica Chastain. In addition to Miss Julie, the two-time Oscar nominee is starring in Eleanor Rigby, Interstellar, A Most Violent Year, and was just cast as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde. That’s a lot of prestige projects and a lot of Jessica Chastain. Miss Julie could end up being one of those building blocks that help Chastain get a nomination (or nominations) for the other projects, or it could be the vehicle itself. Bottom line, it’ll help Chastain in 2014.
The Play. This film is based off of Swedish playwright August Strindberg’s famous play of the same name. Film adaptations of famous plays have had both hot (Frost/Nixon)and cold (August: Osage County) receptions of late. While you may not be able to bet on the film’s success, actors from play adaptations usually perform well.
The Ullmann. Two-time Oscar nominee and perhaps Sweden’s most famous actress, Liv Ullmann is the unlikely helmer of this adaptation. Having been invited to the Academy Awards twice in the 1970s for two of her foreign works, Ullmann steps behind the camera for the first time in 14 years. With Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken topping most prognosticators’ Oscar lists, this could well end up being a banner year for female directors. Why not honor one of the most respected global actresses, too?
Why It Might Not Succeed:
The story. In the end, Miss Julie is kind of donuts for dinner. It’s very good, very sultry, but very “so what.” It will all depend, I think, on how Ullmann adapts this story. It’s very much a tale set in a specific time, toying with gender politics in a particular way. The synopsis taken from IMDb is hard to rely on, since it’s the stock copy synopsis that been used to describe Miss Julie for years. If it’s updated to present day…I’d be iffy on its success. Ullmann will need to keep it set in the 1890s and hopefully allow her actors leeway in the accents. We don’t want these actors trying to do bad Swedish accents, do we?
The Ullmann. Sometimes actors turn into great directors. Other times…they don’t. None of Ullmann’s earlier directorial efforts seem to have captured a lot of attention, positive or otherwise. It would be almost offensive for me to say that Ullmann is unproven here (at a certain point, the Greats get to do whatever they want), but I’m iffy both of her directorial style and competence and her ability to translate the old material into something topical and interesting.
2014? The movie doesn’t yet have a 2014 release date. Will it even open in America this year or will we be doing an Awards Profile for Miss Julie in 2015?
Best Actress, Jessica Chastain
Best Adapted Screenplay, Liv Ullmann