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Ms. at the Movies: Pairing Women & Wine with Females & Flicks – Let the Sunshine In



– Juliette Binoche on her character Isabelle in “LET THE SUNSHINE IN”

Unconventional.  Impulsive.  Raw.  Unapologetic.  Observational.

Am I talking about this month’s wine or this month’s film? Perhaps about this month’s winemaker or the leading lady who stars in this month’s flick? Or am I simply referring to my favorite traits in all of my female best friends?

The answer is YES. To all of it.

I walked out of this month’s film saying, “Wow, that was really French.”  I meant it as a compliment.  In Hollywood, when a rom-com is centered around a middle-aged woman, it tends to have an air of pity surrounding it.  Or condescending encouragement.  What the utterly prolific filmmaker CLAIRE DENIS does in “LET THE SUNSHINE IN” though, is so brave and candid, that American viewers may find it – ugly.  Again, a huge compliment.  The dialogue is poetic yet sharp; elusive yet comical; honest and also, brutally honest.   Even more compelling is what happens when no one is speaking at all.  The moments in between are just as powerful and tell the tumultuous story of a lonely French divorcee as she hops from man to man, from one unsuccessful connection to another.  She’s on a determined quest to find a love that is requited.  A love that she feels she needs in order to have self-worth.  Sometimes I just wanted to shake her and yell, “You’re enough! You are enough! Stop this!”  But then there were those other moments.  Those moments when I wanted to hug her and whisper in hear ear, “Thank you for saying out loud what we all don’t have the courage to.”

CLAIRE DENIS has always been known for her unconventional storytelling.  Throw in the sensual delicacy of her writing and the fearlessness she brings as a director to what’s beneath the surface of the story – and what you get is something patient, observational, and understated…..and very, very French.

It’s in the final scene of this film, when Isabelle meets with a wry fortune-teller, perfectly portrayed by Gerard Depardieu, that we, the audience, feel what Isabelle is feeling.  That life is full of uncertainties and unknowns, and the only real answer is to accept what life brings you, and to allow yourself to be open to all the possibilities.

That uneasiness and fearlessness, albeit based in fear, is why this month I chose “LET THE SUNSHINE IN”.

I needed a wine that was unabashedbly complex.  A wine that knows it’s got a lot going on and demands you to give it a taste.  And let’s be honest – a wine that was very, very French.  This worked out great because the 2015 CLOS VOUGEOT GRAND CRU from DOMAINE JACQUES PRIEUR not only starts deep and dense while finishing warm and spicy, but it’s made by a bad-ass of a winemaker who would probably hunt me down if I ever referred to any of her wines as “masculine” or “feminine”.  NADINE GUBLIN  is the first woman to ever be awarded “Winemaker of the Year” by the highly prestigious  Revue de Vin de France – and she’s the perfect Oenologist to highlight this month.

GUBLIN is a huge supporter of sustained farming.  Her approach to winemaking is super simple – and yet – gets lost on a lot of newer winemakers: “Take care of the terroir.”  She goes on to say, “…wine comes from a terroir, a climate, a place…..”, which is why her vineyards are farmed organically and biodynmically.  A native Burgundian, her precise approach – down to hand-choosing the healthiest and ripest grapes – is what gives us something like the 2015 Close Vougeot Grand Cru.

This wine is just as bold as Gublin is.  On the nose you get great complexity and harmony, with notes of black fruits that eventually evolve into more leathery and tobacco notes.  On the palate you are transformed into a dense and deep place – with fresh black berries that show great maturity with their peppery notes.  The wine finishes with spicy tannins and you’re left thinking, “What just happened here?” and also, “Can I do that again?”

2015 Clos Vougeot Grand Cru from Domaine Jacques Prieur

2015 was a great year for wine in Burgundy.  There was an exceptional amount of sunshine that gave way to some amazingly nuanced wines.  Winemaker Nadine Gublin opened herself up to the possibilities of what would happen to her grapes if she let the sun shine down on her vineyards.  What happened was pretty damn tasty.  Filmmaker Claire Denis took a chance with “Let The Sunshine In”, and opened herself up to the possibilities of what life would be like if we truly let ourselves be brutally honest when it comes to matters of the heart.  The results were terrifying and comforting.

Both of these women took risks.  Both of these women were open to what the universe was giving them.  Oh yeah, and both of these women are really, really French.



Elyssa Phillips

About Elyssa Phillips

A native New Yorker, Elyssa has been acting since the age of 5 (she still owns the red dress with the black bow from when she played Annie at the age of 6). After studying at the British American Drama Academy in England, and graduating from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Elyssa spent her time performing around the country in various theatrical productions....from Shakespeare's "As You Like It" and "Measure For Measure", to the long-running improvisational comedies "Tony 'n Tina's Wedding" and "Shear Madness"...with some other tricks of her trade along the way. Elyssa is a house performer, writer, and producer at The Pack Theater in Hollywood. Her most recent TV credits include "Silicon Valley" and "The Mindy Project".