Julie Johnson
Close friends. Julie and Claire try to control themselves in public
dir Bob Gosse
scr Wendy Hammond, Bob Gosse
with Lili Taylor, Courtney Love, Noah Emmerich, Spalding Gray, Mischa Barton, Gideon Jacobs, Patrick Fitzgerald, Ali Marsh, Welker White, Dannah Chaifetz, Donna Hanvoer, Chuck Montgomery
US Sundance Jan.01; UK LLGFF Apr.02
01/US 1h34

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
With heavy shades of Good Will Hunting, this gentle drama has some nice things to say, even if it's ultimately rather unconvincing. Julie (Taylor) is a stay-at-home New Jersey mom with two kids (Barton and Jacobs) and a nice-guy cop husband Rick (Emmerich) who is also a violent hothead. Then Julie discovers a natural ability with science, she finally asserts herself, telling Rick she wants to finish high school and go to university. He goes nuts and leaves. She turns to her best friend (Love) for support, and the two soon find themselves romantically entwined, to the consternation of Julie's kids and the closed community in general.

The main problem is the way the film deals with Julie's gift for science. She has been secretly reading science magazines for three years, yet can't understand them? Not very likely. And for someone who is such a genius, she is outrageously stupid. OK, so maybe it's about self-confidence and self-acceptance, but even here the story isn't particularly believable as the filmmakers try too hard to show her overcoming her adversity, all of which seems piled on in a cinematic sort of way. But the direction is rather clunky, awkwardly working in flashbacks and trying to be wacky when it's actually a very tentative romance. Taylor and Love are fine in their roles; in fact, the entire cast creates convincing, believable people out of the thin script. But it's all so simplistic that it never really grabs hold.
themes, language 21.Mar.02 llgff

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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall