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15 August 2009 @ 12:56 pm
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.
Current Mood: energeticenergetic
Current Music: Fleetwood Mac - World Turning
Miz Daisy Cutterms_daisy_cutter on August 16th, 2009 09:14 am (UTC)
This movie sounds really good.

Another watcher might see Julie as too self-centered, putting herself before her marriage and children,

Which, of course, is the problem. Not that Julie's too self-centered but that she's not "supposed" to have interests other than her marriage and children.
rogerdrrogerdr on August 16th, 2009 12:52 pm (UTC)
I watched it for Lili Taylor, who is a superb actor, but everyone played it well. I was on Julie's side, but her awakening leads to so much pain that it's hard to call her heroic. Her kids aren't just collateral damage, after all. Her husband deserves what he gets, if not worse, but there's the inner voice which says she could have waited until her children were both old enough to accept it. That's the hardest part to judge, I think.
Miz Daisy Cutterms_daisy_cutter on August 16th, 2009 02:43 pm (UTC)
Well, no, she wouldn't be heroic. She's human. But that's sort of the point... that when people are confined to little emotional boxes, their bursting out of them can cause all sorts of damage. But should they have to stay in said boxes for others, including children? I don't think those are the only two options, honestly.

As for her kids, I don't know how old they are, but younger kids are more accepting of gay relationships than older ones are. They haven't been as fully indoctrinated. So long as they feel secure and loved, they can handle much more than the "Think of the Children!!" brigade believes. And one could say that their father wasn't doing them any favors, especially if one or more are girls, with the example he helped set for treating their mother.

But, yeah, human relationships are messy, and I don't mind seeing the fallout of Julie's "awakening." Feminist sympathies don't have to mean a rigid feminist polemic.