Julia Has Two Lovers

(Bashar Shbib, Canada, 1991)


Julia Has Two Lovers had a reputed budget of nineteen-thousand dollars, a fraction of what some television commercials cost. Directed by Bashar Shbib, it is a modest, rough and ready comedy of sexual manners in the style of Henry Jaglom's films.

Daphna Kastner stars as Julia and co-devised the rambling, improvisatory script with Shbib. Caught in an unfulfilling relationship with her truly dreary boyfriend Jack (David Charles), Julia one day answers the phone and is drawn into a frank conversation with a total stranger, Daniel (David Duchovny).

Since the coming of sound in the '20s, filmmakers have been entranced by the cinematic possibilities of telephone talk. Shbib invents some fine new variations on this theme, as Julia and Daniel go through a whole day of domestic activities – including sex – as they juggle their respective communications devices.

In the tradition of Woody Allen, The Oprah Winfrey Show and My Dinner With Andre (1981), the film is a gab-fest. Neurotic and introspective, these characters are ever ready to hold forth about their catalogue of firsts – first date, first kiss, first orgasm. The quality of both the acting and the dialogue is hit-and-miss, but Shbib raises interesting modern issues.

Julia's new fantasy man is a seasoned practitioner of modern love – offering sexual ecstasy and me-generation confessional therapy without the complications of interpersonal commitment. In its slightly kinky exploration of such alienation, the film begs retitling as Sex, Lies and the Telephone.

Eventually, the story evolves into a modern take on the classic Hollywood romantic comedy formula. Julia must choose between a drab man who offers her lifetime security, and a lover who never seems to connect with reality.

The members of this infernal triangle finally confront one another. But can any of them make a decent decision in this confusing, irresolute era?

© Adrian Martin May 1992

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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