So, I, Gourmand Chic, finally got around to watching this movie that I have heard so much about. I was definitely skeptical about it before I got around to sitting down and watching Julie & Julia. I mean, what does a government employee turned blogger have in common with Julia Child? More than you know, in fact, and the movie is able to reveal this through parallel story-telling of both Julia and Julie’s lives and relationships. I don’t believe there is a single movie about food that I did not enjoy watching – Ratatouilli, Chocolat…what’s not to love?
Julie & Julia is a tale of two gourmands. Julia Child’s story (played by Meryl Streep) is set back in the 1950’s in Paris, and Julie Powell’s story (played by Amy Adams) takes place during the time of, or the aftermath of the events of 911. Nora Ephron reveals the empowerment of women who grow in strength not in spite of their husbands but because of their loving support, a rare break from Hollywood’s obsession with dysfunctional families. Both Julie and Julia have lovingly supportive husbands who give in to their every whim!
There seems little doubt that ‘Julie’ is the weaker of the two stories as she is much lesser known compared to Julia Child, a seminal figure in the world of cookery. Julie’s claim to fame was that she came up with the idea of preparing every meal featured in Julia Child’s cookbook within a year’s time and blogging about it over the internet. While both actresses deserve credit, it’s Streep who dominates and performs an Oscar worthy performance. Deftly playing the dotty masterchef – complete with a brilliantly squawking laugh – it’s an amusing but respectful imitation.
In 1949 France, Julia Child settles in with her diplomat husband Paul (Stanley Tucci) to a new environment and tries to sort out what she wants to do with her time. After determining that she has an uncanny love of food (shopping for groceries is as much fun to her as other women find buying a new dress), she takes up schooling with professionals, eventually teaches a few students, and works on collaborating on her own enormous cookbook. When she can’t find any French cookbooks written for Americans, she knows she’s found her calling.
On the other side of the globe and in the year 2002, Julie Powell is adapting to a new apartment in Queens with her writer husband Eric (Chris Messina) and her depressing job as a government agency secretary. Her spare time is devoted to food as well – both women find relief in the preparation of food almost more than eating it. When her day job starts to really wear away at her soul, she decides to write an internet blog that explains a unique goal she sets for herself: to prepare every recipe in Julia Child’s cookbook – 524 recipes in 365 days. Initially she must deal with a lack of readership (simply throwing words out into a void, which is what blogging nowadays has really become), the negativity of her mother, the strain on the relationship with her husband, a lobster killing ordeal, and the most formidable task of boning a duck!
There’s a sweetly endearing taste to the air throughout this movie, (which at times steers a little close to the sort of `chick flick’ cuteness, for which the director of films like “Sleepless in Seattle” is famous.
But director Nora Ephron manages to maintain a `documentary’ style balance to this true story . . . thanks mainly to Meryl Streep’s transcendent performance, (so believable as Julia) plus some authentic touches for those who know their French cooking.
Bottom Line? The movie ably chronicles the projects of two women from two very different generations with similar needs. As a combination foodie/chick flick, it works very well in its depiction of determination and the power of a slow and steady perseverance that ultimately leads to success. However, “Julie and Julia” main thrust seems to be a tribute to good marriages where behind every great women stands an equally great and supportive male. I thought the saying was “Behind every great man stands a greater woman.”?