Movie Review: Julie and Julia
Like butter, Meryl Streep makes everything better
Frothygirlz sent CJ to cover this movie. Who is better equipped to cover a film about culinary delights than our own resident foodie?
Today, I woke up before my children and made bread. From scratch. I never bake, and I neh eh eh ver wake before my children. When my husband stumbled into the kitchen 30 minutes later to the heavenly smell of French-pressed coffee and baking banana bread, he took one look at the flour-covered counters and the dripping hand mixer and said, “Good morning, Julia.”
The night before, I attended the screening for director Nora Ephron’s new movie, Julie & Julia. The story is Ephron’s melding of two books, My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme and Julie & Julia by Julie Powell.
Ephron has previously handled the typical romantic comedy of boy meets girl, runs into funny obstacles, and falls in love (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail). This time she tackles the romantic comedy genre from a new angle. The characters have already fallen in love and gotten married, and Ephron now examines the comedy of sustaining love rather than chasing it.
Before she was the Julia Child, Julia (Meryl Streep) was just a woman who had moved to Paris with her husband Paul (Stanley Tucci; Big Night, The Devil Wears Prada) and was in need of “something to dooooo” before becoming the first American woman enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. Fifty years later, Julie Powell (Amy Adams; Doubt, Enchanted) was living in Queens, answering calls in a cubicle from survivors of 9/11 and about to turn 30. In 2002, before we all had a blog, Julie Powell decided to add purpose to her life by cooking all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days and to blog about her experience.
The first thing that struck me is how there was no other possible choice for playing Julia than Streep. Her scenes capture not just Julia’s famous lilting voice and hulky stance, but her absolute quirky lovability. I found myself smiling through every Streep scene, especially the many that documented the love story between Julia and Paul.
The scenes featuring Julie Powell’s relationship with her husband Eric (Chris Messina) were much less satisfying and reminded me of what a bunch of whining women we modern girls are. Even with a great husband, a job that pays the bills, good friends and a small but adequate apartment, we girls will sulk and lie around in dirty sweatpants, unwashed hair and unmade faces absolutely convinced that anonymity instead of fame equals a life of failure. Julie’s character pouts to her husband that nobody knows who she is, ignoring all the time that he does.
Meanwhile, I longed to get back to the other half of the movie, the really good half that captured Julia. Even though it took her more than eight years to get her book published, she whined with class while treating her husband with affection and charm, even dressing in high-heeled shoes while cooking his nightly dinner. While the social norms of post WWII may have been the driving force of what women wore and how they acted, Streep’s portrayal of Julia made it look good. I wished for an entire feature film focusing on Julia, and of course, the food. The food was really the other main character in this film. Be prepared to drool over everything from bruschetta to boeuf bourguignon to boned duck.
And so Julie & Julia has achieved at least being very good, with the Julia Child parts being great. And for me, it achieved something it probably didn’t set out to do. It inspired this whiney blogger to put aside complaints about fatigue, early-rising children, my non-published status, and 2 _ linear feet of counter space, and to put a smile on the face of my bed-headed husband as he chewed warm bread with butter and sipped coffee from one of my fancy cups . . . with a saucer.
Frothygirlz rating 8/10