Tilda Swinton, meet Joan Crawford

In which Tilda Swinton swills several cocktails, bumps and grinds with a coworker at an office party, totters uneasily on stiletto heels, fucks him in the car, is forced to attend an AA meeting, drinks some more, and wakes up next to Saul Rubinek. That’s in the first forty minutes — before an acquaintance talks Swinton into kidnapping her (the acquaintance’s) own child so that she can extort a couple million dollars from the child’s grandfather. Then, in pursuit by cops, she heads to Mexico.

Until Julia says the hell with it in the last third, director Erick Zonca and Swinton are on mindlock. Zonca, whose 1998 film The Dreamlife of Angels convincingly followed two female drifters through Nowheresville, France, puts his talent for  documentary verite in the service of melodrama, and the stylistic and genre mismatch create a zonked-out vibe that might repulse you. Imagine Mildred Pierce shot like Vagabond (I couldn’t stop watching). As evinced by her work in the blah thriller The Deep End, desperation becomes Swinton; her cheekbones collapse around her eyes, and her teeth clench like she has tetanus. More roles like this, please. File away the ice queen stuff like Michael Clayton and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

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