Julie and Julia — The Emotional Allure

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12 Aug Julie and Julia — The Emotional Allure

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By the time I finally saw Julie & Julia on Monday, the media had used every food metaphor in existence to write countless reviews and dozens of behind the scenes stories. Some criticized Julie Powell’s year-long experiment, others lauded Powell for giving food bloggers a voice. Kate, from the Accidental Hedonist, disagreed with both sides. The media dissected the script, the acting and even the food. I’m sure if I look hard enough I’ll find an article on Streep’s hat making.

The only aspect of this movie not covered by the media was audience reaction.

Here’s where you come in.

I’m no use since I saw the movie in a nearly empty house (to be fair, it was a Monday matinee). However, a good friend watched in a packed house and was puzzled by the audience reaction. When the movie ended:

  • the audience erupted in applause
  • many people were dabbing their eyes or openly crying
  • mothers were hugging their daughters (who looked to range between 12 and 17)

My friend is a playwright and notices these kind of things. She tells me the majority of the people at that showing were women aged 40 or older. They attended with what looked like same-age friends or teenage daughters. So, the question is: What were these woman reacting to? Were you moved by this film? If so, what touched you? Or does gentle story telling like this fill a void the car-chase, shoot-’em-up, hot-sex films can’t?

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  • Anonymous
    Posted at 11:58h, 12 August Reply

    I saw J+J last night in a crowded theatre in the suburbs of Montreal (but it's usually crowded on a Tuesday, which is $5 night). I was with my movie group – last night, 2 women and 2 men. We all loved the movie – "sweet" was the word that came to all of us at the same time.

    I especially liked the depiction of the two marriages – both men were supportive of their cooking-obsessed wives (though Julie's husband did need a time-out).

    Afterwards, I couldn't wait to come home and check the Julia Child section of my cookbook bookshelf (which happens to be in my bedroom – long story). I have spattered,dog-eared copies of From Julia's Kitchen, Julia Chld and Company and JC and More Company, but I was shocked to see that I don't have Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Why don't you have a contest for a copy of that book, Charmian?

  • Kathe Lieber
    Posted at 11:59h, 12 August Reply

    Charmian, I didn't mean to post anonymously. That was me, Kathe.

  • Cheryl Arkison
    Posted at 12:01h, 12 August Reply

    Maybe there are just far too many women identifying with the need to truly find oneself and commit to what we love/find meaning in?

    I'll be honest, this movie isn't on my list of things to do. I've read both books and that's enough for me. A) I have a rule about seeing the movie if I've read the book, and vice versa. B) I'm sick of the hype.

  • Cheryl Arkison
    Posted at 12:01h, 12 August Reply

    Maybe there are just far too many women identifying with the need to truly find oneself and commit to what we love/find meaning in?

    I'll be honest, this movie isn't on my list of things to do. I've read both books and that's enough for me. A) I have a rule about seeing the movie if I've read the book, and vice versa. B) I'm sick of the hype.

  • Uncanny Festoon
    Posted at 12:38h, 12 August Reply

    I went Monday everning. It was mostly couples and mid age woman with friends. Yes clapping at the end. I did not see or shed tears. The interesting thing to me was the amount of laughter. Also the ahhs that related to the food. I saw it with my husband..he is now in search of a well loved copy of Julia's book! I will see the movie again.

  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 14:16h, 12 August Reply

    Its funny, I'm on the fence about seeing the film … for a boatload of reasons.

    I hate to say this … but … If I'm being honest, I'd have to say I wasn't a huge fan of the blog, and I liked the book even less. While I liked and admired the concept of the blog, and truly applaud the effort – both in terms of the monumental undertaking and the "finding one's self" aspect – the actually of the writing just didn't do it for me.

    I'm genuinely happy for Julie's success and thrilled to see a renewed interest in Julia Child – long a heroine for me – I just kind of wish the book had been better. Perhaps the film is?

    I'm intrigued by the audience response you note and happy to read the positive comments about the film here. Maybe I should give it shot??

  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 14:16h, 12 August Reply

    Its funny, I'm on the fence about seeing the film … for a boatload of reasons.

    I hate to say this … but … If I'm being honest, I'd have to say I wasn't a huge fan of the blog, and I liked the book even less. While I liked and admired the concept of the blog, and truly applaud the effort – both in terms of the monumental undertaking and the "finding one's self" aspect – the actually of the writing just didn't do it for me.

    I'm genuinely happy for Julie's success and thrilled to see a renewed interest in Julia Child – long a heroine for me – I just kind of wish the book had been better. Perhaps the film is?

    I'm intrigued by the audience response you note and happy to read the positive comments about the film here. Maybe I should give it shot??

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 14:30h, 12 August Reply

    Kathe, thanks for your input (and signing your name!) Many people have commented on the supportive husbands. I guess this is lacking in a lot of films.

    My mother left the movie with a hankering for the Boeuff Bourgignon.

    Cheryl A, I admit my interest in the movie lessened as the hype increased. Ironically, I have a copy of Julie & Julia and no longer have any interest in reading it. But I'm dying to get my hands on Child's My Life in France.

    Uncanny, thanks for the feedback on audience reaction. There wasn't much response from the dozen or so people at the theatre when I went. I was the annoying person who laughed out loud every time Streep delivered a Childism. (I just made up that word.)

    Diva, I really appreciate your honesty. I didn't read her blog and think I'd feel the same way as you do. I've got the book and can't bring myself to read it after seeing this. As to the question of whether or not you should see the movie? I suspect you will hate the Julie Powell scenes. Her character comes across as petulant and whiny. I wanted to slap her with a deboned duck. But I think you would LOVE the Julia Child scenes. I didn't want those moments to end. If you're on the fence, wait for the DVD.

  • Debbie
    Posted at 14:40h, 12 August Reply

    I have not seen it yet, but I want to. I will wait for the dvd though. My mom and dad said it was good but not as good as they were expecting. Mom said Meryle Streep was great.

  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 14:55h, 12 August Reply

    Grrr … make that: "the actuality of the writing" … pot, meet kettle.

    I suspect there's a generational thing going on here for me. Powell's writing seems to have great appeal for those in their 20's and 30's … and I'm, well, not among either! I think you're right in suggesting I'll be charmed by the Julia scenes, Charmian – of that I have no doubt.

    I highly recommend both "My Life in France" and "Appetite for Life" by Noel Riley Fitch. It was published in 1999, and is the book that fostered my great admiration for Julia Child. Its a great read.

    Lastly, this: "I wanted to slap her with a deboned duck." – cracked me up! If you felt that way during the movie, don't read the book – your characterization is, sadly, accurate.

  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 14:55h, 12 August Reply

    Grrr … make that: "the actuality of the writing" … pot, meet kettle.

    I suspect there's a generational thing going on here for me. Powell's writing seems to have great appeal for those in their 20's and 30's … and I'm, well, not among either! I think you're right in suggesting I'll be charmed by the Julia scenes, Charmian – of that I have no doubt.

    I highly recommend both "My Life in France" and "Appetite for Life" by Noel Riley Fitch. It was published in 1999, and is the book that fostered my great admiration for Julia Child. Its a great read.

    Lastly, this: "I wanted to slap her with a deboned duck." – cracked me up! If you felt that way during the movie, don't read the book – your characterization is, sadly, accurate.

  • Cheryl @ 5secondrule
    Posted at 15:55h, 12 August Reply

    Glad Diva mentioned Appetite for Life — my stepmother gave me a copy a few years ago and I haven't cracked it yet. I'm looking forward to seeing the film tomorrow night with a bunch of girlfriends and will weigh in again after I do.

    And I did really enjoy Powell's book. This was way before I started blogging or reading other blogs, so the novelty of it struck me as quirky and fun. I might (or might not) react quite differently were I to pick up a copy today.

  • One of the Woodside Joneses
    Posted at 21:34h, 12 August Reply

    Diva, I agree with you. I just finished the book on the weekend… I really wanted to like it, and so I kept reading, but it was flat. I just didn't 'feel' her.

    I will wait for the DVD for this one.

    Jill

    p.s. I do, however, feel this strong urge to go buy more butter.

  • Micah Holden
    Posted at 23:07h, 12 August Reply

    I haven't seen it yet, just read My Life in France. I'm dying to see it but it's not showing in my town! I have to say… I am almost 40 and I remember watching Julia on PBS as a child. I think for me the story evokes lots of memory triggers of that era. I'm sure I'll be nostalgic when I watch… finally, someday…
    hey, great idea, anonymous. I second that contest idea!

  • debbie koenig
    Posted at 08:05h, 13 August Reply

    I saw it Saturday night in a packed house, with my husband. Since it was Date Night there were plenty of men in the room, but the audience was definitely skewed female.

    And I cried, multiple times, but all because of very specific things that related to my own life. The infertility. The arrival of the first published book. That kind of thing.

    I am no fan of Julie Powell & have no interest in reading the book, and I'm not even a fan of French cooking, but I'm a huge Juliaphile. Streep was so fantastic–and Tucci, too–that I'd recommend the film to anyone. You can doze during the Julie parts 😉

  • Buy Soma
    Posted at 15:36h, 13 August Reply

    My mom taught me much about cooking and have given me several of her old Julia Child cookbooks so I thought I'd take her to the movie.

    I think the word that I am looking for is poignant. Or bittersweet. It was both heartwarming and emotional and feel-good at the same time. And yes, it does fill the void that sex and exploding cars can't.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 11:14h, 14 August Reply

    Wow! Thanks so much for weighing in. I find this discussion so interesting.

    Debbie, I'm going to buy the DVD just for the Julia Child scenes. I'm already planning a dinner party around it…

    Diva, we'll talk more offline…

    Cheryl, love to hear your thoughts when you've seen it.

    Jill, butter — oooooh.. I love butter…. and this movie had lots of it. "Look at me! I'm growing before your eyes!!" From all that butter.

    Micah, stay tuned for more…

    Debbie K – thanks so much for giving me the specifics of what touched you. I love how Ephron dealt so delicately with the infertility issue. It was so much more powerful that way.

    Buy Soma, I totally agree with you on how this filled a void. I think this is one of the few mainstream films that didn't feel the need to "sex up" a story line and we loved it all the more for that.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful responses.

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