August 15th, 2009


Julie Johnson

Just caught a really good movie...yes, another lesbian flick, but not so much that as a coming out flick. Julie Johnson, if you haven't seen it. Lili Taylor and Courtney Love, with Mischa Barton supporting as Julie's daughter. I say that it's more of a coming out than about the love affair because Julie's a housewife finding a new world where her feelings for Claire are really just a stepping stone along the path. She finds her true love in chaos math and computer science, which is the real cause of her divergence from friends and family. She lives in a closed world where hot girl-on-girl action is dirty and wrong, but it's her new-found independence and self confidence which breaks the oppressive bonds she has with her husband. I'd say that her affair with her friend is incidental - could have been with a man after all - but its significance is in the completeness of the break it symbolizes. That's the key to the story; everything about it is symbolized by her studies in chaos theory.

The dependence upon initial conditions of such a system means that it can be perturbed by the slightest degree in the beginning and be thrown completely out of an expected outcome. Allusions are made to the Butterfly Effect and turbulence, especially that characterized by the smoke rising from a lighted cigarette. All of this will no doubt seem dry and inexplicable to the average viewer, but the filmmakers understand it well. Julie's life echoes the problem of predicting weather studied by Edward Lorenz, then threatens to bifurcate and disappear into a Cantor dust. Even the careers of Julie's and Claire's husbands as policemen bring to mind the constraints inherent in a system which, however deterministic, cannot finally govern the outcome.

Lili Taylor was her usual fully animate and touching self as Julie, but I was more surprised by how well Courtney Love played the part of the loving friend who, in the end, can't follow Julie into her new world. Another watcher might see Julie as too self-centered, putting herself before her marriage and children, but I'm just selfish enough to say that she deserves to live at least as free as her husband and everyone outside the stilted realm of sports television, laundry, and dinners set for four. She has a right to pursue her dream, which has been suppressed by her husband. Moreover, as the chaos theme shows, once the threshold has been crossed, there is no return to 'normalcy'; either for waterfalls, curling smoke, or liberated housewives.
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    Fleetwood Mac - World Turning