R, 144 min.
Director: Erick Zonca
Writers: Aude Py, Erick Zonca, Roger Bohbot, Michael Collins
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Aidan Gould, Kate del Castillo, Saul Rubinek, Jude Ciccolella, Bruno Bichir, Horacio Garcia Rojas, Mauricio Moreno, Gastón Peterson
“Julia” provides the greatest stretch of the theme I am exploring in these recent Ebertfest entries. Where is the good in the titular character played by Tilda Swinton here? Julia is not a good person. She does not make good decisions. She does not do good things. She does not have good intentions. What she does to the little boy that she kidnaps for ransom made me uncomfortable at times.
Nor is she evil. Her choices are about as poor as they get, but they are not made out of malicious intent, although two do end in death. She’s just sick of her life and doesn’t realize that she’s the reason her life is so undesirable. That poor, poor kid who is so unfortunately sucked up into Julia’s tornado, though. It’s impossible not to feel sorry for him.
With a story like this, you expect it to involve the redemption of Julia. That is such a tempting avenue for a screenwriter. We all yearn for hope. But such redemption may not be possible for a character like Julia without a wildly unrealistic change of character. This does not happen in this movie; however, her redemption is somehow achieved. It is a very small degree of redemption, but the movie builds such a terrible failure of a person in Julia that even the minutest amount of good will that pops out is a momentous sea change for her and those who’s lives she touches.