Sunday, August 9, 2009

After Movie Glow: Thoughts on Julie & Julia and Beyond..

From the first scene until the credits rolled, I had that rare movie-going experience, somewhat like a great book-reading experience, where I so enjoyed every scene that I dreaded the coming of The End.

First of all, I'm one of those women who is ultra-sensitive to pain, shock and violence on the big screen. So the moment I sat down to view this movie, my body completely relaxed ... knowing that the most violent thing on the screen would be the boiling of a live lobster. (If you don't count the famous SNL skit, where "Julia Child" remains calm and joyful while bleeding uncontrollably from a knife cut to the hand.)

At the opening scene of Paris in the 1940's, revealing Julia's excitement over getting to live here, and Paul's quiet joy over his wife's exuberant happiness... a tear began to trickle down the corner of my left eye and re-occured too often for me to keep count throughout the film.

The movie had all the elements of things that bring me great joy...

I love the 1940's-50's era. Those charming kitchens, the dresses, the hats, the music..

I loved seeing old-fashioned Happily Married People who are kind to each other, who recognize and appreciate one another, who applaud each others dreams,comfort each other in sorrow, find each other irresistibly sexually attractive, enjoy their comfortable companionship in quiet times.

Scenes I loved: When Paul and Julie taste a bite of fish cooked the French way, in real butter. They look at each other with mutual wonder at a loss of words and finally just say, "I know. I know." They get each others love of small miracles, like a perfectly cooked fish. Long-married, happy couples do this in a hundred ways; sharing a bite of something they love, or a good line from a book, a peek at a sleeping child, a rainbow or sunset, or a good joke -- because it is the way of true love to want to share all the blessings in life, small and big, with the other.

Another scene that I thought was masterfully acted/directed was when Julie opens a letter from her sister Dot with news that her sister is pregnant. Nothing has been said until this point in the movie about Julia's longing for a child she could not have; but when she bravely, through tears, declares how happy she is for her sister's news -- her husband, Paul, answers by holding her close and gently saying, "I know, I know." He understood his Pollyanna wife was both genuinely happy for her sister and grieving that she'd never have a child of her own as well. He grasp her complicated emotions of joy mingled with pain, as only a good husband who is a good friend can.

I love the way they looked at each other as if both were the most beautiful, charming, bright and kind-hearted spouses on the planet. It is said that love is blind, but I disagree. True Love sees things the rest of cannot see. It has X-ray vision to the hidden beauty of the object of our love.

It goes without saying, that I adored the cooking scenes, love Julia's exuberance and pluck, loved the publishing story with the fairytale-come-true ending.

I also enjoyed the modern marriage love story that unfolds with Julie and her husband as she reflects on how easy it is to get enamoured of a new project and lose sight of the most important person in your life. What husband or wife has not been there, and had to readjust their life, rearrange their priorities to keep their love alive and well.

I love the food, the beautiful food. Real food. It reminds me that though I want to lose weight (who doesn't?), it will never be at the sacrifice of real, whole, delicious and gorgeous food. I'll just eat less food, but I will not sacrifice quality. Better one teaspoon of real butter on a thin slice of good hot French bread; than a tablespoon of chemically created tub o'butter on a big, blah white roll.

For decades,in my own life, cooking took a back burner to emotional survival of a painful and confusing long season. Then I married Greg and soon after, discovered the wonder of the Food Network Channel. Paula Deen and Rachel Ray made it look so easy and they talked in comforting, "let's get real" tones, and I was hooked. Slowly, and happily, I began to cook. Cooking or just thinking about it, became my angst free zone. In short, they were my Julia to my inner Julie and I found a good measure of healing and recovery via the joy of cooking for those I love.

Now I am dreaming of cooking in Paris and in Italy. If we save our pennies, we think it can happen next year. Soon I'll begin taking Italian lessons and dreaming in earnest of Tuscany, fine Chianti,hunting for wild mushrooms and chopping up tomatoes, garlic and basil to serve atop hearty bread that has been slathered with olive oil and grilled to perfection.

In a year or so, I feel sure that Greg and I will be sitting on some villa's veranda, over looking the vine-covered hills. I'll raise my glass to him and say, "A loaf of bread, a glass of wine,and thou." And then we'll toast again to the memory of Paul and Julia Child ("Bon Apetit") who showed the world how to savor good food,fine wine, and great love.

For an earlier, related post @ Marriage of Paul & Julia Child see


  1. Nurturing,mouth watering food, loving husbands, acceptance letters, first copies in the mail...I know, I know...lovely review, Kindred Spirit!

  2. There was SO MUCH to love, Lael! :)

  3. Thank you Betsy for visiting StrangeCulture --- I hope you come back and visit again.

    I didn't know Judith Jones had written a book --- that's wonderful -- I will definitly have to check that out!!

  4. I soooo agree about this movie. How refreshing to see married people who love each other and find each other attractive in a film! The acting, writing, directing, scriptwriting, scenery, costumes--all top notch. I loved every single minute of it, and like you, hated for it to end. ;)

  5. I too have had the pleasure of viewing the movie 'Julie and Julia' and wished the story continue a little longer !! What a beautiful 'true' story. It would have been nice to actually see Julie meet up with Julia Child. I will be looking out for the cook books 1 & 2. Also,'My Life in France' Julia Child's Autobiography. Will be nice to know more about this Beautiful Lady.

  6. I know, I know. Becky, this was a beautiful tribute to a beautiful movie. I actually had the privilege of meeting Julia not long before she gave up the Cambridge house and became a full-time Californian. And I chatted with her several times over the last few years of her life. Sometimes seated next to her at a cooking demonstration, I enjoyed her amusing "under her breath" comments. A joyful and truly unique woman.