Julie & Julia
The most likely reasons you want to see this movie: you love good food, you worship Julia Child, you heard Meryl Streep was in it.
The most likely reason you don’t want to see this movie: you heard Nora Ephron wrote and directed it.
Here’s the good news – the reasons to go deliver in a big way, and the reason not to go isn’t a problem! In fact, the film Julie & Julia has little in common with Ephron’s other treacly work like Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail. Instead we get a charming portrait of a remarkable woman, and a prime example of how she has influenced the way we cook.
I would say that Meryl Streep is a revelation, but are you really surprised? There is clearly nothing this woman can’t do. Even as a much shorter woman with no real accent, Streep completely embodies Julia Child. She has down the voice, the mannerisms, the peculiar way she had of looking off to the side and behind her. Every time she’s on screen, you can’t help but smile and laugh, as we see the true joie de vivre that Julia had in life. Could it be yet another Oscar nomination? Listen to me now – it’s very, very possible. At her side is the delightful (and sexy) Stanley Tucci portraying the passionate love of her life – Paul.
The other focus on the movie is Julie Powell, a young government bureaucrat who escapes the drudgery of her life by cooking her way through Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She starts a blog about the experience, and we witness the ups and downs of her life – can cooking save her soul? Save her marriage? Although the character comes off as remarkably self-absorbed and whiny, it’s handled with such gentle hands by Amy Adams, that it works. Adams has the ability to make us love her no matter who she’s playing, and that’s a real gift. Her husband Eric is played by the adorable Chris Messina.
Overall I think the movie is just a joy – if you’re not starving by the end of it, open your eyes! It’s a feast for the senses, and makes one long for the return of Smell-O-Vision. The writing is well-done and stays faithful to the books that spawned the movie. But I am taking off a few points for some times the movie dragged, which tended to happen any time we focused on Julie’s character too much. I think Ephron could have shaved off 15 minutes from the movie and it would have been perfect. My grade – an A-.