Julie & Julia In Review
A Movie That Is Pleasing To The Senses
Have you ever watched a movie and found yourself wishing that it wouldn’t end? Julie & Julia is one those movies. If you’re a sucker for romance, even if you disliked Julia Child, this movie is sure to please you.
Directed and written by Nora Ephron, Julie & Julia tells the true story of what happened when two women decided to stop listening to personal critics and to professionally pursue their creative interests. In modern day New York there lives a dissatisfied office worker named Julie Powell (Amy Adams) who, after being challenged by her husband (Chris Messina) to do what she’s passionate about and to stick to it, decides to start a blog where she’ll document her year-long attempt to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. At the same time, we see a yet to be discovered Julia Child (Meryl Streep) circa 1940s/1950s who is gently instructed by her husband (Stanley Tucci) to pursue her own interests. Having always had a love of food and a secret desire to become a great chef, Mrs. Child has to prove herself a worthy pupil in order to be allowed to study at Le Cordon Bleu during her stay in Paris. When it appears that she may not be able to graduate from the program, she serendipitously meets Simone "Simca" Beck who tells her to use some of the clout from her days as a government agent to pressure the head of the school into allowing her to test to receive her certificate. From this meeting she also garners a writing partner in Beck who she’ll eventually co-author Mastering the Art of French Cooking with. Can one’s life really be dramatically changed by someone that one has never met? Judging from this movie (and the book by Julie Powell that the movie is based on) the answer is yes.
To put it simply, Nora Ephron is an amazingly talented woman. She is famous for writing and directing movies with humor and heart and Julie & Julia is no exception. Under her direction, Meryl Streep turns in a performance that is sure to get her nominated for various awards. Her impersonation of Child is uncanny, but not cartoonish in the slightest. She also proves to reveal a sensual, vulnerable side of the gifted chef that few of her viewers may have known about. I for one have learned to appreciate Julia Child more by watching Streep play her. However, where Streep shines Adams character seems to just whine. She is unhappy with how her life has turned out, but she does nothing about it until her abundantly patient husband pushes her into blogging. Still, even then, Julie complains about how much she labors to make the food and to write an adequate blog. When her husband reaches his breaking point and walks out on her, you want to stand up and cheer for him. The normally charming Adams was wasted in this role. This is why my only complaint about this movie is that both women got equal screen time. The portions about Julia Child are delightful and fill you with warmth. Every minute spent telling Julie’s story drags not because of Ephron’s writing, but because Julie is so much of a pill.
Though it’s wonderful to see how Julia Child became Julia Child, the real highlight of the movie is watching the love story of Paul and Julia Child. It is clear that these two people loved each other deeply. They were inspired by each other and enjoyed a passionate love affair. When it was customary for husbands to frown upon their wives aspiring to be something other than a homemaker, he supported her dream and relished in being her taste tester. As a result, she followed him across the globe realizing that cookbooks and personal success mean little when the one you love is not beside you. Having worked together before, Tucci and Streep utilize their genuine chemistry to accurately portray this ideal couple. It was a joy to watch them.
Julie & Julia is a movie that can’t be missed. Whether you see it in the theater or wait until it’s on DVD, you won’t be disappointed. Unlike many of the movies that are currently offered at the cinema that you’ll undoubtedly regret wasting your money on, Julie & Julia is worth every penny and reminds you what a quality movie looks, sounds and feels like. “Bon appétit!"
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