2008 // France - USA // Erick Zonca // October 11, 2009 // DVD - Magnolia (2009)
C - Erick Zonca's Julia confirms that Tilda Swinton is an actor of the finest stripe, a woman who can elevate even a sprawling mess of a thriller into something exceedingly watchable. Swinton disappears into the skin of the Los Angeles party girl of the title, a prickly, forty-something alcoholic with bottomless reserves of cynicism. Unemployed and desperate, Julia latches onto a kidnapping scheme so ludicrous it has no chance of success. However, Zonca and his co-writers seem to recognize as much, in that the plan goes to shit almost instantly. Thereafter, Julia is a marathon chase film, where things seem to go from bad to worse to completely bollixed. This cascade of misfortune is due primarily to Julia's relentless stupidity and cowardice, which admittedly makes it hard to give a damn about her. The film doesn't earn its clumsy gestures of sympathy for her or the eventual tenderness between captor and hostage. Swinton still manages to engage with her stammering vulnerability and undercurrent of ruthless swagger, but the film falters despite her. The final eighty (!) minutes comprise an aimless, exasperating string of scenes, lacking the necessary emotional propulsion.