JULIA is an ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful art-house flick from writer director Erick Zonca (THE DREAMLIFE OF ANGELS). It features a brilliant central performance from Tilda Swinton as the eponymous middle-aged alcoholic. Julia is loud, brash, sleeps with random guys, can't hold down a job and desperately needs cash. The opening half hour shows us a typical night out, morning after, recriminations and defiance. The scene was set for a brutal and engrossing character study. Unfortunately the movie veers off course with an implausible plot that takes us not nearly convincingly enough into surreal territory. Julia meets an unhinged Mexican woman called Elena (Kate del Castillo) who convinces Julia to help her kidnap her young son and blackmail her rich father in law. Julia decides to kidnap the boy on her own and keep the money. The resulting events are absurd, especially when Erick Zonca decides to take the third act into Mexico, and have the young boy and Julia form a bond that seems just plain unlikely given everything that's happened before. A less lurid script - less forced character development - would've left this movie stronger and leaner. As it is, it soon descends into an over-blown, over-long mess.
JULIA played Berlin 2008 and opened earlier this year in France, Belgium, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Kuwait and the UK.