There was a “little” movie that you might’ve heard of in the early 90s called “Pretty Woman.”
…and a star was born.
Being a 13 year old boy, I had no interest in that film. Mainly because at that point, my sister had a huge interest in it and I knew the kind of movies she loved when she was in high school: lame, comedy romance. I avoided it…for a few years anyway…
Even though I had not seen it, pretty much every other person on the planet had, so there was no escaping it. There were clips on “Entertainment Tonight,” trailers shown on every other television break, and trailers again whenever I went to a movie. The scene that I remember is when Gere closes her hand in the jewelry box and she cries out her boisterous, yet feminine laugh. I also remember seeing a scene of her singing in the bath tub to “Kiss” by Prince (RIP)…I remembered that because of the song. She was America’s new sweetheart and she was not going away.
Man, I sound like I wanted her to go away…I didn’t, I just wanted “Pretty Woman” to go away. Which brings me to my very first Julia Roberts experience; and WOW-was-it unexpected.
I remember thinking that she was beautiful, yet she had this very honest, kind, and gentle quality about her. She gave the impression that she could be talked to by anyone. She wasn’t goofy like I had been made familiar with through all of “Pretty Woman‘s” advertising.
In “Sleeping with the Enemy,” Julia plays a very timid, kind, and gentle housewife that is the victim of an abusive husband played by Patrick Bergin in a very aggressive, haunting performance.
The great thing I remember about her performance was the fact that the audience is not witness to an actual case of physical abuse until the end of the first act; yet her unease makes us feel like Bergin is a pitbull, just waiting for a reason to lash out. We find out that he is and before we do, we are as tense as Julia is. That is because of Julia (although Bergin did help portraying a total psychopath).
This movie wasn’t just a basic woman escapes a monster through “the system.” It is a clever psychological thriller that tells us what we need to know, when the writer felt we were ready to know it.
This is the part where I remind everyone that I would hate to give anything away. Know this, the moment of truth is EXTREMELY satisfying.
Julia, like Denzel, was another “new” star, that we all wanted to see more of. The rest of America knew that a little quicker than I did re: “Pretty Woman.” Just like I did with Denzel, I looked for prior movies and got excited for new ones with her. I later found that Julia had already made a GREAT movie that just didn’t hit it too big unfortunately. For those of you that have not seen “Mystic Pizza,” put it on your list. It is a great coming-of-age story told through the eyes of teenage girls unlike any other. Keep your eyes peeled for a very young and fresh Matt Damon. If you blink, you’ll miss him.
She had a very minor role in “Steel Magnolias,” which I watched a number of years later as that was labeled another “sister” movie (cue gag noise). That is a sign of my immaturity, not that the film was bad. I thoroughly enjoyed it later.
Julia made A LOT of different movies that I enjoyed over the next twenty years…but I can’t tell you all of them at once. I have to write about something, after all.