Julia Roberts' Filmography - Part I

I love Julia Roberts’ acting. She is the one actress whose movies I have seen the most. Roberts has an unusual talent for comedies; however, that ability has been both a blessing and a curse in her career since the public, who seem to adore her in comedic roles, is prompt to dismiss her in more serious ones. Unfortunately that has limited her career somewhat, but directors have luckily found some middle ground to tackle major topics in a humorous light in whatever film she stars.

In her early acting years she dabbled into several genres. In Mystic Pizza (♦♦♦), Roberts stars as a teenager of modest upbringing who works in a pizzeria and falls in love with a rich boy. Her sister falls for an older man who doesn’t disclose he is still married, and their friend has equal problems of her own. A slow movie and not at all important, except it jumpstarted Roberts career. A major break comes along with Steel Magnolias (♦♦♦♦), for which she receives an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. In Steel Magnolias, Roberts stars as Shelby, a diabetic girl who marries the love of her life. Her mother doesn’t want Shelby to get pregnant because it could put her life at risk. Eventually Shelby gets pregnant and delivers a boy. The rest of the movie is about the dynamics of a group of female friends at a hair salon and in their personal lives. There is an all-stars cast in this movie: Sally Fields (Norma Rae, Mrs. Doubtfire), Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment, Postcards from the Edge), Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck, Mr. Holland’s Opus), Dolly Parton and Daryl Hannah (Splash, Roxanne). Expect to cry, worth seen!

Her next big break happens with Pretty Woman (♦♦♦♦♦). I just can’t understand critics who give this movie a bad rating! Everything is lovely about this film: both Roberts and Richard Gere (Red Corner, Nights in Rodanthe) are beautiful; there is great music, good scenery, great plot, great acting, and great costumes to top it all. In Pretty Woman, Roberts stars as a high-school dropout, turned prostitute, who meets the client of a lifetime in Edward Lewis, a rich businessman in search of having a good time. They have more in common than it’s initially apparent, so they end up falling for each other. Lots of shopping and love too! What’s not to like?

In Sleeping with the Enemy (♦♦♦♦), Roberts stars as woman who is constantly abused in her marriage. One day she decides to escape by faking her own death and starts anew somewhere else, but her ties to her new place threaten to reveal her location. Her husband won’t forget the pain she caused him with her disappearance, or that she has already found a new man. Very powerful movie! Both her husband and the background music are creepy! Mary Reilly (♦♦♦) and Conspiracy Theory (♦♦♦) are two Roberts’ movies which I have assigned so-so ratings, each for different reasons. I think that Roberts is wonderful as Mary Reilly in the homonymous film; it is the topic, however, which does not contribute to the feel-good movie-going experience. John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich, The Empire of the Sun) is brilliant in it as usual; he is deviant and depraved as both Dr. Jekyll and his assistant Mr. Hyde. Mary Reilly is Dr. Jekyll’s servant, who uncovers Mr. Hyde’s terrifying secret. The movie would be great if it weren’t so damn bloody and sinister! In Conspiracy Theory (♦♦♦), Roberts stars opposite Mel Gibson (The Patriot, Breakheart) as an attorney who has an admirer--borderline stalker—in Jerry (Gibson), a cab driver who in his spare time writes conspiracy theories. When Jerry is abducted by government agents, supposedly for a secret he has uncovered, Alice (Roberts) has to put together the pieces of the puzzle and embarks on a quest to find him alive.

Commercially successful romantic comedies such as My Best Friend’s Wedding (♦♦♦♦♦), Runaway Bride (♦♦♦♦) and Notting Hill (♦♦♦♦♦) followed the movies discussed above. In My Best Friend’s Wedding, Roberts stars opposite Cameron Diaz (Shrek, Gangs of New York) and Dermont Mulroney (Lovely and Amazing, The Wedding Date) as Julianne, a food critic who discovers she is in love with her best friend Michael when he calls her on the phone to tell her that he is getting married. From that moment onward, she plots to snatch the groom before he gets hitched. All is adorable in this film: cast, acting, music, plot…Wonderfully entertaining!

Runaway Bride (♦♦♦♦) is an attempt to recreate the success of Pretty Woman, another Garry Marshall’s classic. In the latter film, Roberts was relatively unknown, a fresh face with a very bubbly attitude. In the former film, however, Roberts and Gere are all grown up and the jokes don’t work the same way, but the movie satisfies nonetheless. In Runaway Bride, Roberts stars again opposite Richard Gere as Maggie, a three time bride-to-be who has left her grooms at the altar. Gere stars as Ike, the journalist who writes Maggie’s story as told by one of her former fianc├ęs. When Maggie protests the accuracy of Ike’s column, he is sent to her hometown to straighten up the story and ends up falling for her. In Notting Hill, Roberts stars opposite Hugh Grant (Love Actually, About a Boy) as Anna Scott, a movie star who goes to a bookstore during the promotion of her latest movie in London, and meets Will, the bookstore owner. Later during a chance encounter in the street, Will pours coffee on Anna’s blouse so she is forced to change her outfit at his nearby home. A spontaneous kiss, an invitation to see each other later, and several complications follow. When he realizes he has fallen for her, he discovers that she has a boyfriend. Misunderstandings jeopardize their relationship but Will is not about to lose the love of his life for lack of trying. Very satisfying! Pure movie-going delight!