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Julie Walking Home (2002)
13. Jun 2004 at 07:22
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I hadn't read anything about this movie prior to watching it a few days ago. It's worth a look. Ryan has a fairly significant role throughout the film. He's a fine young actor deserving of more roles. Miranda Otto is great as always.

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SCREENED AT THE 2003 SEATTLE FILM FESTIVAL: A joint Canadian/Polish production (there’s a new mix), Julie Walking Home is a film that suffers from the new millennium malady of independent films spending two hours showing us how great they are and then tying everything up at the end in order not to confuse the stupid people in the audience. Which is a shame, because this is a great flick, full of great performances, and some patient, well-built romance… it just tends to take a handful of wrong turns in the last half hour that supercede a lot of that good.
Miranda Otto is one of those names you may not recognize, even though you know the face from somewhere. An institution in Australian dramatic circles (as is her dad, acting veteran Barry Otto), Miranda has been on the way up since Bea Arthur was on TV, and with every role she’s snagged she’s won more and more admirers. As the lead in Julie Walking Home, she takes that to the next level as a Christian woman who is sick of Christianity, married to a Jewish man (William Fichtner) who just cheated on her, while her son has just developed a cancerous tumor. Suffice to say, there’s plenty for Ms Otto to stress about, and she doth stress well.

When the drugs won’t work and it all looks grim for Julie’s boychild, her father’s mail order bride from Poland tells of a man where she comes from (Lothaire Bluteau) who cured her of a breast tumor just by touching her with his hands. Latching onto what may be her last chance, Julie takes the kid across the world and finds the healer – starting a love affair with him in the process. Which is kind of where the film at once hits both its high point and low point.

I’d be lying if I said I could pinpoint exactly where Julie Walking Home came unstuck, because as I was marveling at the patience that director Agnieszka Holland took with the development of their affair, I also found myself not really sold on it. Maybe it’s because Bluteau looks like a Polish geek – which surely makes him as geeky as geeks can get – and Otto looks stunning. Maybe it’s because for all the banter between the two of them, there’s no real bite. Or maybe it’s just because, to me, the guy seemed so far from mentally mature that I couldn’t believe a woman would just suddenly throw her legs around his head. Whatever it was, strangely, I wanted her to go back to the adulterer. And not to spoil anything, but the end of this film took a way easy option just when a really interesting potential plot twist came forth.

The ‘In The Bedroom’ crowd will eat it up and say that this is marvelous stuff, and to be totally honest it’s not bad at all. There are certainly big performances here (little Ryan Smith stands out), and perhaps a great film could be carved out of what was shown at this festival if some harsh editing were done, but maybe it’s best to just let it lie as it is and enjoy what good springs forth from the screen.

At the halfway stage I was convinced I was watching a film that would blow audiences away, but it just couldn’t hold things at that standard for the full running time. In the end, Julie Walking Home is a solid flick. And that’s surely worth a matinee ticket.
« Last Edit: 06. Jul 2008 at 20:09 by Zabladowski »  
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Re: Julie Walking Home
Reply #1 - 13. Jun 2004 at 18:13
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Cal, thanks for profiling this one!

I happened to see it on one of the cable channels here a few months ago (Sundance, maybe?), and I thought it was really good!  I actually thought that we had a thread about it somewhere around here that I had commented in at the time, but I'm getting older, and sometimes I just think things and they haven't really happened.   Roll Eyes

It was primarily a love story concerning the mother and the faith healer, but Ryan Smith certainly was fantastic in it!

Love,
Sir J
  
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