Waiting until my daughter Lauren returned from school before I was able to see the ‘Julie and Julia’ movie made the film even more delicious. Friends and class participants urged me to go, and gave the movie consistently good reviews. Fortunately for me, I was busy, busy the last two weeks and wouldn’t have been able to go without Lauren if I had wanted to. So, it was pretty easy to keep my word.
I didn’t waste my time reading the reviews two weeks ago when the movie debuted, it just wouldn’t have mattered what the critics said. We were going. A short nap after the Farmers’ Market came to an abrupt end when I was informed by my husband, Tony, that if I wanted to make the 4:10 showing, I’d better get up. Lauren and I made the 15 minute drive and arrived at the theater, which fortunately had no waiting line. We hurried through the theater and got there just in time to see that pre-movie, animated reminder to turn our cell phones off, keep our feet off the seats and shhhh!!! Come on, can’t they do better than that?
When the opening music started and Julia and Paul’s vintage American car was lifted from the boat to dry French soil, all the hubbub and stress of my Saturday morning faded away and I was in France. I immediately smiled and fell into total escape mode. The next two hours, I laughed, cried and gasped my way into a deepened relationship with the two ‘J’s’.
Having read both of the books that the movie was based upon, I felt that I already knew the two main characters. I thought that both the lead actresses did a fantastic job of bring to life both Julie and Julia. Having the span of nearly a year between my reading ‘Julie and Julia’, and having an even longer lapse since reading ‘My Life in France’, I was comfortably blurred on any particular gaps in content or changes in particulars in either of the texts. These lapses made watching the movie much more pleasant for me. I hate it when I have just read a book and then see the movie only to realize that the film makers have left out (important to me) details. I was almost giddy when Judith Jones was brought into the picture as Julia’s editor/savior. Having also read ‘The Tenth Muse – My Life in Food’ by Jones, I was for once in my life feeling ‘well read’. It’s my fantasy – let me live it.
The movie was balanced by a fair amount of true – to – the books structure and filled with just enough fluffy humor to make a confection that satisfied. Having not read the usual outline that the critics give of the movie, I was pleasantly surprised by the supporting cast. The best of the unexpected for me was the two husbands. I was blown away by the performances of Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina. The guys came across as loving, supportive and charming, but not doormats. I really couldn’t take my eyes off them. They actually talked to their wives. Worked through issues. Loved and cared for the women in their lives, and weren’t afraid to show it. The movie painted a picture of similarities between the women, the men, the trials and tribulations of all parties.
If you haven’t been, or perhaps you are going again (as I most assuredly will), pay attention to the wardrobes of Julie and Julia. See if you notice anything unusual about the costuming. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Another thing about the movie that was indeed surprising, but I must say I really didn’t notice its impact until today, was that there really wasn’t a food-based frenzy on the part of the production team to show a ga-zillion different dishes. Not that the food wasn’t beautiful, it was. The scene where the raspberry and and cream were being folded together for the Bavarian was a delight to watch. The chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and toasted almonds made me want a huge slice. I especially loved Julie’s husband slicing off the side of the cake and shoving it into his mouth. If my husband had done that (cut the cake in such a way as to have uneven slices), I would’ve raised holy hell! Julie was cool about it, though. Oh, and the scene with Julia’s sister and the baguette and brie was classic! These two scenes once again brought the parallels of the characters’ lives once more into focus.
Now having said that the food itself was understated, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t hungry. I was. I have been reminiscing since I left the movie about all things food and France. Wine at an outdoor cafe if Paris, dinner in the garden in Compiegne, my first attempt at Tarte Aux Pointes d’Asperges, learning to make chocolate mousse, and the first six months in culinary school when the focus was classic French and European foods. All these fond memories are ones that will play out in my foodie brain for the rest of my life.
If you are working on a project and are repeatedly faced with daunting deadlines and rejection, this movie will make you want to charge ahead. All things appear possible, goals are realized and success is obtained. Sometimes watching someone else obtain their dream is all the inspiration you need to keep your eye on the target. Thanks, Julie and Julia!