By Anthony Miele | February 22, 2001

“Julie Johnson” is the story of one woman’s quest for intelligence and a better, less dreary life … a life that includes more than noodle salads and brown bagged lunches. It has an interesting cast who sadly cannot save a lazy script and bland direction. Lili Taylor portrays the title character, Noah Emmerich, Spalding Gray and, devil incarnate Courtney Love, round out the crew of thespians.
“Johnson” is a perfect example of good acting being overwhelmed by a poor overall story. Lili Taylor brings every trait needed to make the title character likable and endearing as a woman who is miserable with her tedious and boring life. Noah Emmerich is fine as the husband who takes advantage of his long-time companion and Courtney Love is the friend who … well … wears hot, revealing clothing and smokes cigarettes seductively.
Julie (Taylor) has had enough so she finally decides to throw out her husband and make a go at a college degree since, you see, she really likes to read science magazines … lots of science magazines. In another spur of the moment decision, Claire (Love) decides to her collegiate quest. Later, as it turns out for a moment at least, they are actually much more then friends … so they do what all life-long friends (who are written by a male) do … they begin a lesbian affair with each other!
While the film does have some decent character development, it never seems to grab on to any theme with anything more than a pinch. Maybe the lesson, if there is one, is that tiny things can change everything but the film is so mundane in its scenarios that all credibility is lost almost immediately. Unfortunately it takes a little more that a few mathematic equations to get, not only accepted into M.I.T., but earn a full scholarship. Maybe if any of the filmmakers had actually researched this fact the storyline might have been less contrived and more believable.

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