Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Julie & Julia: My Fave Film of the Summer
Charlie, Toni and I went to see Julie & Julia this past weekend. What a delight! Being lovers of great food, cooking and Juno-esque women, it was right up our alley. Definitely our favorite film of the summer!
When we first encounter uber-actress Meryl Streep's Julia Child, what strikes me is how very happy Julia is. She’s married to American diplomat Paul Child (and it seems a true marriage, where they both subtly light up in each other's presence - played by Stanley Tucci) and living in Paris, a city that she loves wildly. Meryl Streep’s portrayal is brilliant, and come Oscar time she'll be the one to beat. There’s a touch of a Julia-over-the-top stereotype ala SNL skits inserted into the role, but it’s not overdone. You leave the theater wishing you had know the real Julia, and had been able to make it to a dinner party at her home.
Through the alternating scenes between Julia’s lush France and Julie’s Queens, New York, (where Julie and her husband live over a pizzeria not unlike the Greek pizzeria across the street the year I lived in Phillie's Kensington neighborhood in 1977). Streep steals the show as she cheerfully shows up her male counterparts at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school and interacts with her husband and girlfriends in a way that’s touching and quite un-Hollywood. The couple shows real love, the kind without the usual Hollywood snake oil. It’s a reminder that love doesn’t have to exist between people who look like Brangelina, but more often occurs with people like the zaftig, towering Julia and the shorter and bald Paul.
Julia’s world gets credit for providing a space where a large woman can be happy, living without the pain of being self-deprecating or even at all physically self-consciousness. The sight of a plumpish, large woman (Julia was 6'2") who was very content in her own skin was medicine for this particular Amazon's soul (I stand a paltry 5'11", which towered me over my classmates in the 50's and 60's.)
In one adorable scene, she and her sister Dorothy, an Entwife of a woman with a Aunt-Pat attitude, stand in front of a mirror, putting the finishing touches on their party clothes. Julie, hugging Dorothy and speaking to the mirror says, “Not too bad, huh?” She pauses. “But not too good either,” she adds, and the two laugh wildly. I LOVE it. BTW, did anyone else see a nod in Elizabeth and Dennis Kucinich's direction with the portrayal of Dorothy's lover? Cute! Streep's Julia is truly a brick house!