By Tom Meek | December 11, 1999

In Figgis’ last film, “The Loss of Sexual Innocence,” the angular Saffron Burrows played a longing soul who seizes the fruit of forbidden passion at the most unexpected moment. Here in her follow up collaboration with Figgis, the film adaptation of August Strindberg’s play, she is cast into the same part, playing the object of the film’s title, a Swedish count’s daughter. In the background a midsummer night’s gala for the servants engulfs the estate. In the kitchen Miss Julie manipulates two underlings, the footman (Peter Mullan) and his fiancee (Maria Doyle Kennedy), the cook, in a dangerous game of power and sex. After a flash act of indecency the power balance shifts and sexual tension is replaced with a deathly air of desperation. Figgis orchestrates the drama masterfully, but it’s the poignant performances that drive this period piece, most notably, Mullan’s brooding pauper, full of devious contrivances to garner wealth and realize his dreams.

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