By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated December 10, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST
Saffron Burrows, Miss Julie

A dangerously capricious, horny, high-born young woman flirts with, manipulates, and torments the hired help, and rises to the occasion in August Strindberg’s 1889 play, once banned in the playwright’s native Sweden. In this adaptation by Mike Figgis (”Leaving Las Vegas”), the director lingers delightedly on class, sex, and emotional warfare.

But despite all the robust physical activity, Figgis never frees the play enough from the stage to fill the screen. Saffron Burrows (”Deep Blue Sea”) plays ”Miss Julie” as a bitch just a tick away from mental breakdown; Peter Mullan (”My Name Is Joe”), as the ambitious foot servant Jean, plays her pawn and punisher as a bastard just a gesture away from murder. Both work very, very hard — and their exertion shows, magnified rather than complemented by the restless camera work of Benoit Delhomme (”The Winslow Boy”).