Ok, I have watched a lot of films in my day. A lot. More then my fair share. My High school years (well, from Sophomore year when I used to sneak out during study halls onward) were spent watching a lot of movies. A LOT of movies. In college, we had a free station that would show 2 movies a day every 3 hrs, basically 6-8 movies a month. Basically my relaxing time was better spent watching film – hundreds of films – Just because I wanted to absorb the film. It is in watching Julie & Julia that, for the first time I can ever recall, asking myself “am I watching brilliance? When you are watching something transcendent, do you realize it, or only upon later reflection does it become clear? When seeing history, do we honestly know it is historical, or is it just another moment that because supreme after we dwell on it?”
In all the films, all my years (good god we are now discussing 1/2 of my life – GULP) I know I have seen greatness. I have watching things that have moved me to tears (Notable example: Last episode of Six feet Under. I sobbed like a baby, then re-watched it again 5 years later: same reaction), things I have known were great upon the first viewing (Helen Mirran in The Queen, Forrest Whittaker in Last King of Scotland, No Country for Old Men, Their will be Blood), watched countless academy worthy films to the point where I can see the wins from almost a mile away.
From the first moment, millisecond, wisp of time in this film, she WAS Julia Child. There was no Meryl Streep, there was nothing but Julia. She channeled the American cooking icon to her core, to the very pearls and apron, to the touches of grace and her laugh. Every moment about this screamed Julia. That was when I snapped myself back (on purpose – for this piece – if I wasn’t going to write I would have simply settled in and drown myself in a sea of Meryl glory!) and thought “My God… I have never seen or felt this before. It is like knowing your witnessing greatness, in a once in a lifetime act”
I sort of remember feeling like this when I watched Robert Downey Jr in “Chaplin”, though not to this extent. The only times I truly remember it are in the line of sports. In August 2007, the Red Sox were on their way to winning the first pennant in the AL east that I can ever recall (clearly that is – I kinda remember 95, but it was more hazy) when a rookie, in his 2nd start threw a no hitter. I remember dashing downstairs, leaving my GF upstairs in bed to watch the last 1 1/2 inning of the game. I remember where I was (the Kinvara) and who I was hugging (strangers – everyone I could) when the sox won Game 7 of the ALCS in 2004. I remember game 4 of the ALDS in 99 when John Valentin hit 7 RBIs (including 2 Homers) to bring the sox back to beat the indians in the series, and in game 5 of that series, Pedro coming in relief, pitching 6 no hit innings HURT. Big Papi (Best clutch hitter. Ever. Enough said).
My point is: the greats always have a way of raising things to the next level. You never know when that level is going to come, and never know when it is going to peak. You sit back, jaw agape, and try to take in every moment they are playing. Acting is no different – if your very gifted, however, your career last longer then any pro athlete – even golfers (seriously – is there any other pro sport where you could be 55 or 60 and still, possible compete? Jack Nicklaus won the Masters at 46, and still was competing at age 65).
All that being said, I spent 2 hours and 2 minute awestruck by Meryl. Completely awestruck. She was Julia in every way.
The most decorated living actress should now make room for her next Oscar on the mantle.