We are introduced to Miss Julie through the eyes of John, her father’s valet, who describes her as “elegant” and “magnificent” and praises her “waist and neck.” Her first lines of dialogue demonstrate that in addition to being beautiful, Miss Julie, played by Jessica Chastain, is also a force to be reckoned with: “I, the mistress of the house, honor the workers with my presence.” John (Colin Farrell) explains, “She thinks she can control everyone.” So begins the erotically charged power struggle that dominates the trailer for Liv Ullman’s Miss Julie.
We see a lot of Miss Julie ordering John around, beginning on an innocent-enough note (“Come, dance with me!”) but quickly escalating into more serious — and sexual — territory: after John refuses to kiss her shoe, Miss Julie orders him to do so. “You’re playing with fire,” John warns, but like a moth to a flame, Miss Julie persists in her pursuit to bend John to her will despite the presence of his fiance and the class differences that divide them.
The official description for the film reveals more details: “A country estate in Ireland in the 1880s. Over the course of one midsummer night, in an atmosphere of wild revelry and loosened social constraints, Miss Julie and John … dance and drink, charm and manipulate each other. She, all hauteur longing for abasement; he, polished but coarse — united in mutual loathing and attraction. By turns seductive and bullying, savage and tender, their intimacy leads to desperate plans and vision of a life together…Unsure if the morning brings hope or hopelessness, Julie and John find their escape in a final act as sublime and horrific as anything in Greek tragedy. Miss Julie depicts a fierce battle for power and dominance, enacted through a cruel and compulsive game of seduction and repulsion.”
See who wins the game of seduction and repulsion — if anyone does in fact come out a winner — when Miss Julie opens in theatres December 5th.