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Stephen M. Silverman
October 23, 2009 08:00 AM

Sienna Miller received a guarded welcome to Broadway Thursday night, as critics measured her performance in the drama After Miss Julie, an update – to 1945 – of August Strindberg’s 1888 play about sex and class.

“In a theater season that has felt like a boys’ club of male movie idols from abroad (Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman in A Steady Rain, Jude Law in Hamlet), wouldn’t it be gratifying if one fearless woman – with fewer stage credentials than the guys but almost as much tabloid exposure – walked away with the laurels?” writes Ben Brantley of The New York Times.

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Adding to the anticipation of what he thought about her acting, he opines: “She has always struck me as a game, gutsy kind of gal, as intrepid in choosing film roles (Factory Girl, Interview) as in courting (and wrestling with) the fame that now accompanies her like an unwanted bodyguard.”

But, ultimately, Brantley’s praise is limited to Miller’s “good diction, good posture and great legs. Commendable as these attributes are, they are of limited use in portraying a tautly wound, death-courting neurotic who is eaten alive by her own demons.”

Slightly more approving is Michael Kuchwara, who for the Associated Press also notes that Miller “looks sensational: blonde hair done up in a quintessential 1940s ‘do, her trim figure wrapped in a pert floral print dress that shows off her great legs. The very model of a seducer awaiting to commence seduction And there is a relentless quality to Sienna Miller’s performance, not terribly subtle or vulnerable, but compelling in its obsessiveness.”

The infamously testy John Simon, of Bloomberg News, found much to like in her “persuasive performance,” however – finding Miller, 27, “convincing enough in the title role, managing superciliousness and condescension, lust and humiliation, with unassailable proficiency.”

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Reaction to Miller’s Broadway debut – she costars in the Roundabout Theatre Company production with Jonny Lee Miller, who was once married to Angelina Jolie – qualified as major news in her native England, where the Daily Mail tracked the reviews, as well as the fact that her former fiancé, Law, and even a former boyfriend, Craig, are also on Broadway right now.

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