Sunday, August 9, 2009
Oh, the irony -- Julia CHILD was childless
Dh & I went to see "Julie & Julia" this afternoon. You may have heard about this movie already: it intercuts between the stories of Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep -- did that woman ever find a voice or accent she couldn't do??), learning to cook & writing her famous cookbook while living in France in the 1950s with her diplomat husband, and Julie Powell (played by the adorable Amy Adams), a NYC would-be writer who decided to cook all 500+ recipes in Child's cookbook in 365 days as a 30th birthday project in 2002 -- and blog about it. (I found Powell's current blog online, here.)
The movie has lots to say about food, about writing, about friendships, about marriage, and about blogging. It was fun, as a blogger, to watch Julie & her husband, Eric, setting up her blog, her disappointment when the only comments she gets are from her unsupportive mother, her chagrin when she gets called on the carpet by her boss for her blogging activities, and her excitement when a New York Times article about her blog gets her phone ringing off the hook with calls from reporters and publishers.
The big revelation of the movie for me, though (spoiler alert!), was the fact that Julia Child -- who got married in her late 30s & was in her 40s when the movie takes place -- was childless. There's a moment, relatively early in the movie, where she & her husband are sitting on a park bench in Paris, & she pauses as she watches a mother wheel a stroller past her. It's such a brief moment that I wonder if anyone who hasn't dealt with infertility would notice it. (Dh did, & squeezed my hand.)
And there's a second moment, later on, when she receives a letter from her newly married (also no spring chicken) sister and learns that she's pregnant. She starts crying as she reads the letter to her husband. As he puts his arms around her, she sobs, "I'm really very happy for her." Several people in the audience laughed at that point (?!). I, of course, was in tears.
The loving relationship between Child & her husband Paul (played by Stanley Tucci) is what really makes the movie, I think. I'd read comments in the press before about how unique it is these days to see such a loving, SENSUAL relationship onscreen these days between two middle-aged people. And it's a great thing to witness -- particularly as one half of another 40 & 50-something, childless couple who are likewise devoted to one another. ; ) The theatre wasn't packed, but it was fuller than it usually is for a Saturday matinee, and many of the people were at least as old as dh & I, if not older. I remarked to dh that the last time we we were in such a packed theatre on a Sunday afternoon (even more so, actually) was for "Mamma Mia" (also starring Streep, as well Julie Walters and Christine Baranski), and the time before that, for "Calendar Girls" with Julie Walters and Helen Mirren. There is obviously an audience out there that wants to see movies with good stories about more mature characters, like themselves. (Hello, Hollywood??)
The slightly less idyllically depicted relationship between Julie & Eric is also part of the movie, of course. They don't have children either (yet?), but then of course, they're in their early 30s (give them time...). I keep going back to Julia & Paul, who both lived well into their 90s. Both Julie & Julia tackle their respective projects (Julie her blog, Julia her cooking & eventually her cookbook) as a way to give their lives focus and meaning -- but I keep thinking about how hard it must have been for Child, a childless woman in the 1950s (a time when married women were not expected and certainly not encouraged to work), trailing along after her diplomat husband from post to post, bouncing from French classes to hat-making lessons (!) and boring bridge clubs before finally finding her life's passion.
I picked up "Julie & Julia" the book at the bookstore after the movie, and will probably add Child's "My Life in France" to my reading pile as well.
Anyone else see the movie? Read the book?