Nora Ephron made some witty movies about cooking (Julie & Julia) and love (Sleepless in Seattle), but food and love didn’t always go together harmoniously in her films. Think of Meg Ryan irking Billy Crystal with her persnickety salad and pie order (or embarrassing him with her fake orgasm in the deli, for that matter) in When Harry Met Sally, or Ryan scolding a gluttonous Tom Hanks for eating the party tray garnish in You’ve Got Mail, or Ryan and her sisters having a flour fight while trying to cook Thanksgiving dinner in Hanging Up. But nowhere is the food-love connection messier than in Ephron’s screenplay for Heartburn, based on her autobiographical novel about her marriage to Carl Bernstein.
In the Mike Nichols-directed film, the Ephron character, food writer Rachel (Meryl Streep) spends a lot of time enchanting the Bernstein character, political columnist Mark (Jack Nicholson), with her repertoire of recipes. Yet neither her cooking prowess nor even her pregnancy is enough to keep him from straying. In the movie’s climax, at a dinner party, she’s confronted with his latest betrayal. She walks to the kitchen counter, returns with a cream pie, thrusts it in his face, calmly asks him for the car keys and drives out of his life forever.