One of our most-anticipated events of the fall festival season is the return of Liv Ullmann with her first feature film since 2000, Miss Julie. Led by Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell, the drama is the adaptation of August Strindberg‘s play, and is set to premiere at Toronto International Film Festival. After two compelling trailers, the first pair of clips have now arrived.

Set in 1874, the film follows Chastain as a woman trying to escape an existence cramped by social mores, who is suddenly drawn to a senior servant (played by Farrell.) The first clip showcases what looks to be an early interaction with our leads, as Chastain examines Farrell’s eye, then the second finds them conversing outside. Check out the clips below, along with an extended synopsis, for the film also starring Samantha Morton:

The ten films in which Liv Ullmann starred for Ingmar Bergman — including such classics as Persona, Cries and Whispers, and Scenes from a Marriage — represent one of the greatest director-actor collaborations in cinema history. It was no surprise, then, that when Ullmann herself moved into the director’s chair, she demonstrated an unerring ability to summon the best from her casts. That skill is once again on display in her adaptation of Miss Julie, a lacerating study of class, power, and desire that unfolds one Midsummer’s Eve in the late 1800s.

Moving the action of August Strindberg’s canonical play from Sweden to County Fermanagh in the north of Ireland, Ullmann’s film opens as the eponymous Julie (Jessica Chastain), daughter of an Anglo-Irish aristocrat, sets out to seduce one of her father’s senior servants, the worldly valet John (Colin Farrell). The charged flirtation between the two doubles as a kind of psychological gamesmanship, which deepens and darkens as the night rolls on — much of it witnessed by the house cook Kathleen (Samantha Morton), who, despite being John’s’s ostensible betrothed, remains quietly resigned throughout.

Seamlessly combining the spatial dictates of the stage with the geographical freedom of film, Ullmann makes brilliant use of the vast country manor in which the film is set, dividing its rooms into compartments of anxious activity, with the kitchen serving as the nucleus of simmering tensions waiting to boil over. As would be expected, Miss Julie’s greatest strength derives from its performances. As Julie, Chastain possesses a beguiling blend of privileged petulance and vulnerability, while Farrell is deliciously duplicitous as John, slipping between bootlicking submission and sudden displays of dominance. Yet the film’s secret weapon is Morton, frequently acting opposite an ailing pug yet exuding an eerie canniness about all that transpires as this upstairs-downstairs contest careens toward its chilling finish.

What do you think of the first clips?

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