Julia Roberts is unequivocally the reigning queen of romantic comedies. As you get ready to snuggle up and watch some of your favourites this weekend (Eat Pray Love is on tomorrow on Slice!), here are a few important lessons about love and relationships we’ve learned from some of Julia’s most popular movies.
1. We want what we can’t have
When Julianne (Julia Roberts) finds out her best friend Michael (Dermot Mulroney) is engaged in My Best Friend’s Wedding, she realizes she’s in love with him, sending her life — and his upcoming wedding plans — into a tailspin. This movie reminds us that sometimes we only want what we can’t have. At the end of the day we have to ask ourselves, do we love the person or just the idea of the person?
2. Relationships aren’t perfect (or easy)
In The Mexican, a clumsy criminal (Brad Pitt) tries to transport an ancient gun across the border, while his girlfriend Samantha (Julia Roberts) pressures him to give up his criminal ways and show more commitment to their relationship. What this film teaches us: relationships take hard work, commitment and sometimes blind faith in order to stay together.
3. Trust your gut
In Erin Brockovich, Julia Roberts plays a single mother who almost single-handedly brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city’s water supply. The lesson: in both life and love, follow your intuition. Whether it’s fighting corruption, or not settling for less than you deserve in a relationship — stand up for the things that matter to you.
4. Sometimes, you need to swallow your pride
In the charming British rom-com Notting Hill, Julia Roberts plays Anna, an American movie star who falls in love with British bookshop owner William (Hugh Grant). Their love story becomes complicated by a series of misunderstandings and cases of poor timing. The lesson: open communication is key and sometimes you need to put your foolish pride aside in order to be with the person you truly love.
5. Keep break-ups simple
In the 1991 thriller Sleeping with the Enemy, Roberts plays Laura, a woman who escapes from her abusive husband by faking her own death and moving to a new town where she captures the attention of a kind college drama teacher. The lesson here: when it comes to break-ups, keep things simple. Be honest and get help (either from friends or law enforcement) if needed. As this movie teaches us, elaborate break-up ruses like Laura’s just lead to more trouble, like creepy stalkers and gun play.
6. The hardest lessons are the most important
In Mystic Pizza, Julia Roberts plays Daisy, a young woman looking for love in all the wrong places while trying to get out of her home town. It’s a coming-of-age story that focuses on the trials and tribulations of three female friends through the summer after high school. What we can take away from this 1980s gem of a teen flick: sometimes the most difficult, painful lessons are the most important to learn.
7. Some love affairs are meant to be short-lived
In Prêt-à-Porter, Roberts plays Anne, a scruffy American journalist who is sent to cover Paris Fashion Week but instead loses her luggage and gets holed up in a hotel room with fellow journalist Joe (Tim Robbins). The couple spends the majority of the movie in the hotel room drinking and having a bittersweet, self-contained affair that will likely wither as soon as they go back to real life. What we can learn: not every love affair is going to turn into a long-term commitment. Sometimes you just have to enjoy things for what they are.
8. Failed romances don’t make you a failure
Julia Roberts plays Maggie Carpenter in Runaway Bride. Maggie’s a spirited young woman who has become notorious for the trail of fiances she has left at the alter. What we can take away from this movie: just because you haven’t had success with relationships, doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It could just mean that you haven’t found what you’re looking for. To unearth what really makes you happy, sometimes you need to take time away from dating to work on you.
9. Be yourself
In Mona Lisa Smile, Roberts plays Katherine, a free-thinking art professor who teaches conservative ’50s Wellesley girls to question their traditional societal roles. The overriding message of this film is that it’s important to be your own person and that when it comes to relationships you should never settle for anything less than complete happiness.
10. Happiness happens outside of your comfort zone
In Eat Pray Love, Julia Roberts plays Elizabeth Gilbert, a newly divorced woman who sets out on a journey of self-discovery. During her travels she discovers the true pleasure of nourishment by eating in Italy, the power of prayer in India, and, finally and unexpectedly, the inner peace and balance of true love in Bali. This film teaches us one of the most important lessons of all: that sometimes you have to step completely out of your comfort zone to find true happiness.
Psst! Watch Eat Pray Love tomorrow at noon, only on Slice.
What have you learned from Julia Roberts movies? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter @slice_tv.
Simone Paget is a freelance writer and the author of Skinny Dip, a cheeky blog about love, sex, relationships and everything in between. When she’s not writing her heart out, she loves wandering around her city, large cup of coffee in hand, in search of the next great story.