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Tuesday, March 19 , 2019, 10:34 pm | Partly Cloudy 52º

 
 
 
 

Cinema in Focus: ‘Julie & Julia’

Julie Powell and Julia Child find a passion for life in marriage and cooking

4 Stars — Wholesome

The joy of life is found in the simple pleasures: a loving relationship, a delicious meal, a shared life. Though we all know this intellectually, it is wonderful to see our artists portray why this is true in a film such as Julie & Julia.

Based on the true story of two people who had far more in common than their names, director and screenwriter Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail) serves us a satisfying feast.

Using two autobiographical books by Julie Powell and Julia Child, Ephron captures their spirits in both the screenplay and the casting. Child’s story takes place in the early 1950s, and Powell’s story takes a similar path in 2002.

Powell (Amy Adams) is a young woman living in Queens with her kind and thoughtful husband, Eric (Chris Messina). Residing in a small apartment above a pizza place, Powell is a frustrated writer. Painfully discouraged with her office employment, her husband recommends that she write a blog on the Internet. Together, they decide she will blog her experience of attempting all 524 recipes that Child provides in her best-selling cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She decides to do so in 365 days.

Child (Meryl Streep) is in a similar position in life when her husband, Paul (Stanley Tucci), is stationed in Paris working at the U.S. embassy. Realizing that what she enjoyed most in life is eating, and especially French cuisine, she decides to become a French chef. Attending a prestigious school, she finds her passion is not only cooking but teaching Americans to cook.

The film blends the larger-than-life personality of Child with the sincerity of Powell as the film oscillates between their lives. The result is an amusing and endearing mix, and a feast for your eyes and appetite.

As portrayed in the film, they are both blessed with amazingly supportive, insightful, kind and patient husbands. Child’s husband truly adores her and is able to express his support in a multitude of ways. This is brought into focus when the early rejection letters from possible publishers leave her devastated. Her husband lifts her spirits and helps her find her literary and later televised place. Powell’s husband does the same for her. With a playful optimism that lifts their wives’ spirits, the love and authentic care in both marriages are a wonderful example of shared life in a committed union.

Finding and living our passion is important in discovering the joy of life. But that passion must be shared with others in mutual respect and support in order for it to truly bring the happiness we are all pursuing. That truth is a recipe worth trying in all of our homes.

Discussion:

» Have you discovered and are living your passion? If so, who is sharing your joy with you? If you aren’t, how can those you love help you discover what it is?

» The pleasure of food is something for which our bodies are created. However, some look down on this pleasure and assert that you should not “eat for pleasure.” Do you believe this? Why or why not?

» The complementary nature of Child’s and Powell’s lives is obvious in the film. Do you believe this was true in the real lives of these two women, or a screenwriter’s fantasy?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church on the Mesa. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com.

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