Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
France/USA/Mexico/Belgium, 2008. Les Productions Bagheera, Le Bureau, France 3 Cinéma, uFilm, StudioCanal, The 7th Floor, Saga Film, Jaibol Films, Canal+, France 3, , Le Tax Shelter du Gouvernement Federal de Belgique. Screenplay by Aude Py, Erick Zonca, Adapted by Roger Bohbot, Michael Collins. Cinematography by Yorick Le Saux. Produced by Bertrand Faivre, Francois Marquis. Production Design by François-Renaud Labarthe. Costume Design by April Napier. Film Editing by Philippe Kotlarski. National Board of Review Awards 2009. New York Film Critics Awards 2009. Online Film Critics Awards 2009.
Julia (Tilda Swinton) is a party girl who has never quite caught on to the idea of a responsible life. Partying all night, random sex partners and too much booze may have been glamorous twenty years ago, but now that she’s pushing forty she is merely a self-destructive addict. Her AA sponsor is at his wit’s end and she can’t keep a job down, so when she discovers the opportunity to make some quick cash, Swinton goes for it. A mentally unstable woman at her meetings turns out to be the mother of a little boy from whom she has been separated, who lives with his multi-millionaire grandfather and is not allowed to see her. Swinton feigns sympathy in order to help the woman kidnap the boy, planning all along to get him for herself, demand the ransom and solve all her financial worries. Unfortunately, she’s still the same irresponsible mess she’s always been, making for one bungled effort after another until she is fleeing the country with the kid and ends up in Mexico. Erick Zonca’s modern retelling of Gloria has a lot going for it, particularly in its unapologetic commitment to grittiness and the unstoppably brilliant performance by Swinton in the lead, who is fearless when it comes to fleshing out this character’s near-epic instability. The film is also committed to its own grimness, however, and Zonca lets the unpleasant interactions spiral out of control and the film runs on far longer than it should. It’s never boring, but at times its arch dramatics reek of pretension that is only kept bearable by the superb acting.