Nora Ephron’s movie Julie & Julia is a chocolate-mousse of a treat; utterly decadent, thoroughly pleasurable, and surprisingly profound.
I went to see this film last night and Meryl Streep’s astounding incarnation of La Julia as the French would refer to a grande dame (in every sense of the word) such as Mrs. Child is just loaded with Frenchitude.
With me were my sister Suzanne – who has a solid claim to Frenchitude for her name alone, my Mom, and my beloved aunt Sharon (who told me over dinner that reflecting repeatedly on the phrase “budgie smuggler” from last week’s Frenchitude helped her finally recover from a terrible dental abscess – how could one not love such a kindred spirit?).
The absolutely packed movie theatre audience actually clapped when Julie & Julia was over. When can you last remember that happening? For me, it is lost in the mists of time.
Where do I start?
Firstly, as my sister wisely pointed out it was so unbelievably refreshing to see a movie about marriages that dealt with the life of a couple – two couples here, in fact – with the marriage ceremony well behind them. So often these days movies are all about the ensnaring-and-getting-to-the-alter part. One can almost be excused for forgetting that life, and love, can continue beyond the Honeymoon.
Both on-screen couples were touching, but the Childs, brilliantly acted by Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci, were so understated and pitch-perfect that their interactions made me cry at regular intervals. They portrayed such complicity and deep, deep love for one another.
Secondly, Julia Child’s love of France is contagious. She is a perfect example of how people from any country can, and should, adopt France as their spiritual home.
Thirdly, the movie illustrates how home cooking and taking unabashed pleasure in divine food has the power to elevate and transform people’s lives for the better.
Granted, Julie Powell and Julia Child are extreme examples of this. However, they both embody the simple truth that every single moment of pleasure in life is one moment that nobody can ever take away from you, and that delicious, authentic food (and wine) is one of the richest sources of such moments.
Julie & Julia shows us that, contrary to what society often tells us, we should banish guilt entirely and embrace the opportunity to feast on food, and consequently feast on life.
In my not-so-humble opinion, watching this movie is essential preparation for any trip to France, or just for your next trip to the grocery store.
And, bien sûr, Bon Appétit!