Monday, November 30, 2009

Julie and Julia: Movie Review

Academy Award nominee Amy Adams and two-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep star in this delectable film based on the lives of two extraordinary women. In 2002, Adams is Julie Powell, a restless twenty-nine-year-old phone representative whose dreams of becoming a writer have shrunk to the size of her cubicle. After moving with her husband, Eric (Chris Massina), to Long Island, where they rent an apartment above a pizzeria, Julie longs to find her place in a corporate society dominated by shallow executives. Consumed by the desire to prove that she is worth more than material for the down-and-out column, she is inspired by her idol - legendary cooking magnet, Julia Child - to write a blog based on a year's experience cooking all 524 reciples from Child's cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. So begins the Julie/Julia Project, a comic journey down a road of self-discovery paved with chocolate souffle, poached eggs, and plenty of boeuf bourguignonne.

Interlaced with Powell's story is an account of six years in the life of Julia Child (portrayed to a pearl by the impeccable Meryl Streep). While accompanying her husband, Paul (Stanley Tucci), on his diplomatic assignment in France in 1948, she is captivated by the sights, sounds, and tastes of Paris, with the only frustration being that "absolutely nothing comes in (her) size." After several stints at hatmaking and bridge classes, she decides to pursue her passion for fine cuisine by enrolling at the Le Cordon Bleau cooking school. While there, her dexterity and daring surpass those of her all-male classmates, but her road to success is blocked by the cynical Madame Brassart (Joan Juliet Buck). All of this changes, however, when she meets Simone Beck (Linda Emond) and Louisette Bertholle (Helen Carey), cooking teachers who aspire to write a French cookbook for American housewives. Impressed by her skill and bubbly enthusiasm, the pair ask Julia to join them as contributor, translator, and editor. The result is the culinary opus, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Looming in the background of Julia and Paul's otherwise blissful marriage is the threat of McCarthyism as Paul is investigated by agents of the Red Scare.

Julia and Julia began as a project blog written by Julie Powell, a phone representative for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. In 2005, it was published as Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 reciples, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen and republished in paperback as Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. Director Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle, Bewitched) became aware of Julie Powell after reading an article on the blog in The New York Times. The idea of combining the Powell story with a feature on Julia Child was that of Columbia Tristar's co-chairman, Amy Pascal. Although the production encompasses two films in one, Child's story, although it takes place fifty years before Julie Powell's, should in no account be referred to as a flashback. Rather, it is Powell's story, lacking in vivaciousness and genuine humor, that should be referred to as a flashfoward. Streep's performance as the affable, outgoing Julia Child is unbeatable and ripe with emotion, while Adams' character experiences several exaggerated meltdowns with little accomplishment at credible expression. The film's conflate well, but the Child story is undoubtedly the crutch which supports Powell's half of the film, which has no chance of standing on its own on the big screen. However, performances by Stanley Tucci, Linda Emond, Helen Carey, Jane Lynch (who is towering, literally and figuratively as Julia's sister, Dorothy), and Mary Lynn Rajskub (Julie's best friend, Sarah) harnass a well-deserved "bon appetit" for what is ultimately a three-star production.

Visit my website at for the latest in movies, music, and entertainment electronics.


No comments:

Post a Comment