Synopsis by Mark Deming
One woman's decision to improve her mind has unexpected, life-changing results in this drama. Hoboken-born housewife Julie Johnson (Lili Taylor) left high school at the wishes of Rick (Noah Emmerich), who was then her boyfriend and is now her husband; Julie spends her days cleaning house and looking after her two children, Lisa (Mischa Barton) and Franky (Gideon Jacobs). Julie, who likes to read Scientific American in her spare time, has always dreamed of going back to school, but loutish Rick strictly forbids it. Without Rick's knowledge, Julie and her best friend Claire (Courtney Love) enroll in an "Introduction to Computers" course at a local community college, where instructor Mr. Miranda (Spalding Gray) quickly senses Julie has a tremendous intellectual potential she's never tapped. With Mr. Miranda's coaching, Julie breezes through the computer course and is soon tackling advanced mathematical and scientific theory with other members of the college's faculty. Rick eventually gets wind of Julie's new academic career and isn't the least bit pleased, but Julie, whose accomplishments have done wonders for her self-confidence, responds by kicking him out of the house. Claire, impressed by Julie's stand against Rick, decides it's time to leave her abusive husband Mike (Patrick Fitzgerald), and she moves in with Julie while looking for a new place. As Mr. Miranda urges Julie to obtain a high-school equivalency certificate and move on to a four-year college (where he'll be able to arrange an academic scholarship), Julie and Claire discover their new independence has stirred new feelings within them, and they move from being close friends to tentative lovers. Julie Johnson was based on the play by Wendy Hammond, who co-wrote the screenplay with director Bob Gosse.
college, self-confidence, wife