GOOD: NOTTING HILL
Science has proven that Julia Roberts’s smile shows more teeth than any other human’s (except possibly Brian’s). Is this the key to her movie star longevity? Quite possibly they got her her start. But something more must have kept this woman in our hearts for so many years.
NOTTING HILL attempts to answer this question and many more. An awkward Brit bookshop-owner (Hugh Grant) is unexpectedly snogged by a movie star who seems very much like Julia Roberts (Julia Roberts). What follows is the most self-consciously meta romantic comedy of all time in which one movie star plays herself and the other pretends not to be.a movie star. Julia/Anna may be just a girl standing in front of a boy, and this may be just another formulaic Richard Curtis joint, but there’s enough commentary on stardom here to fuel a dozen monographs by Richard Dyer. Grin and bear it!
BAD: EAT PRAY LOVE
When the 21st century bourgeoisie are lined up along the barricades and made to pay for their crimes, Julia, Ryan Murphy and (most of all) Elizabeth Gilbert better hope that our proletarian overlords are feeling particularly generous. EAT PRAY LOVE was a pre-credit crunch piece of best-selling self-help travel porn that had the misfortune to be made into a film once the world had gone tits up.
You know you’re in trouble when even America’s Sweetheart struggles to make a protagonist remotely relatable. Julia slurps spaghetti, mouths mantras, and basks in Bali, all to… find herself? Get over a divorce? Fulfill an insanely generous book deal? No one knows and no one cares - except Seán who has found the latest entry to round out his syllabus for The Cinema of Repugnance.
This execrable oddity just barely avoids torpedoing the goodwill Julia has accrued over all those years. But as they say, “If you don’t accept me at my bougie-est, you don’t deserve me at my Brockovich!!”
CRAZY: SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY
Crazy has many meanings, and in SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY it’s what young wife Laura (Julia Roberts) discovers her husband to be when he obsesses over the arrangement of hand towels or the alignment of canned goods. But hubby Martin (Patrick Bergen) is more than just slightly OCD: he’s a violent psychopath and Julia must fake her own death to escape him.
In her first big starring role after her breakout success, Julia is a woman in jeopardy - putting on aliases, wigs and even a fake mustache all in hopes of starting a new life in Smalltown, USA. At the centre of the the implausibly schematic scenario, a very youngJulia dampens her usual brightness to play a woman traumatized by fear - but learning to fight back.
Drink your V8, Shelby!