This film came very close to a recommendation from me. I can’t quite put my finger on what was missing from Julie Johnson, because I actually did like the film more than I expected. But still…
Julie Johnson (Lili Taylor) is a 30-something housewife and mom in Hoboken, New Jersey. Like any surburban couple, she and her husband host barbecues in the back yard for their neighbors, he brings home the bacon, and she tends to the house and the kids. Secretly, however, Julie voraciously reads science magazines like Popular Science and Omni. When she suddenly decides to get her GED, and worse, go back to school and take computer classes, her husbands flips out, so she kicks him out.
Thus begins a journey of a woman “waking up” to find courage to pursue her own dreams and passions (which includes an affair with her best friend Claire, played by Courtney Love).
Julie Johnson effectively showed the fallout of one person’s decisions on those around her, including, in this case, the kids, the husband, the neighbors, and the best friend. The movie doesn’t flinch to show that sacrifices that need to be made when taking control of your own destiny.
There were several standout performances, including Spalding Gray as Julie’s community college professor, and Courtney Love as Claire, Julie’s supportive best friend who can’t quite keep up with Julie’s dreams. But as much as I love Lili Taylor, it seems that she (ironically, as the title character) wasn’t given much to work with, except lots of dreamy-eyed, looking-off-into-the-distance scenes and sudden drastic decisions. There were many scenes that I thought really rang true with exceptional screenwriting, but it was the stringing-together of these scenes that left me wanting.
Check out Julie Johnson if you are a fan of the actors, but for the rest of you, it may prove to be too plodding of a movie to keep your interest.