Tilda Swinton, Aidan Gould, Saul Rubinek, Kate del Castillo
Elena: So, here’s where I’m taking the gun, and I’m shooting in his direction-
Julia: Whoa whoa whoa WHOA…that is the FIRST time I’ve heard you bring up a gun!
Elena: …well…it’s only to frighten him.
Julia (Swinton) is living a rough life. Lots of drinking, sex, and irresponsible behavior. After losing her job, she attends an AA meeting where she meets Elena (Castillo), a somewhat unstable single mother who wants to get custody of her son back from the boy’s grandfather. She enlists Julia in a plot to kidnap the boy, but when Julia discovers Elena doesn’t have the money she promised to pay, she comes up with a kidnapping plan of her own. This plan does not go well, and Julia gets way (and I do mean WAY) in over her head.
A very interesting movie, this one. The first thing that jumped right out at me was the performance by Tilda Swinton. She’s amazing. It’s hard to believe she’s hiding an accent. In the hands of a lesser actress, some of the character turns in the movie might have felt inauthentic, but Swinton plays them perfectly.
The movie starts with a series of somewhat disjointed scenes that echo Julia’s disjointed life. She often wakes up not knowing where she is, who she’s with, or what has transpired in the last few hours. She is the picture of irresponsibility living for the moment’s pleasure. This is what gets her into trouble in the first place and what will cause her grief throughout the film. I don’t want to say too much about the plot, but Julia will be forced, multiple times, to choose between doing what will bring her great personal gain or doing what will help someone else. She thinks she can have it both ways, but the greed always brings trouble.
Aidan Gould, as the kidnapping victim, Tom, also does a good job in a role that often could be annoying. He’s not a whiny or precocious kid actor. He just seems like a scared kid taken by a scary lady.
Despite being a tad overlong (2 hours and 20 minutes) and having a few plots developments that are a bit hard to buy, the movie rarely dragged or meandered. It’s a compelling journey that keeps piling the complications up on Julia’s head and leaves the viewer guessing as to how she’s going to get out of each of them. As is pointed out by Julia’s friend, Mitch (Rubinek), these problems are mostly self made due to her troublesome, selfish nature. Though maybe, by the end, Julia has learned a little bit about caring for somebody other than herself.
Kidnapping seems like a hard thing to get away with.
10 – 1.4 for a few hard to buy plot turns – .5 for being a touch overlong = 8.1