"Julie and Julia" Movie Review
Ah summer. It’s a time for big blockbuster movies and Meryl Streep. The greatest living American actress must contend with a new title – box-office queen. Streep scored in summer of 2006 with “The Devil Wears Prada” and then in 2008 with “Mamma Mia!” Now, she’s getting ready for a three-peat with her meaty performance in “Julie and Julia.”
Streep stars as Julia Child, the woman who forever changed the way America cooks and eats. But before she became a household name, Child was an American housewife living in Paris in 1948. “Julie and Julia” captures Child’s rise to culinary fame from her humble beginnings as a student at the famous Cordon Bleu cooking school to her game-changing cooking show, “The French Chef.”
Meanwhile, fifty years later, we meet Julie Powell played by Amy Adams. She’s pushing 30, living in Queens, and working in a cubicle as her friends achieve stunning successes.
Julie decides to focus her energy on one crazy plan. For 365 days, she’ll cook all 524 recipes featured in Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” (co-written with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck) and write a blog about her experiences.
Writer/director Nora Ephron (“You’ve Got Mail,” “Sleepless in Seattle”) has been inspired by two books namely “Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously” by Powell and “My Life in France” by Child written with Alex Prud'homme. The result is an uneven film with Child’s story predictably dominating the narrative.
Similar to Streep’s film “The Hours,” Ephron tries to connect the main characters otherwise separated by time and space. The one common denominator that holds Julie and Julia together is their passion for food.
You will feel hunger upon seeing the seemingly never-ending display of sumptuous platters such as herb-roasted chicken, butter poached Maine lobster, boeuf bourguignon, sole meuniere, and trussed chickens. But as a moviegoer, you will wish that Ephron had served a film with a balanced diet of character development and pacing.
Both Julie and Julia also share the impeccable luck of having supportive husbands. Julia has Paul (Stanley Tucci), a diplomat in the American embassy in Paris while Julie is happily married to Eric (Chris Messina). Both men empower their wives to follow their dreams.
Streep and Tucci, fresh from teaming up in “The Devil Wears Prada,” display undeniable chemistry. Tucci’s Paul is a wide-eyed optimist who seems to be more encouraging of his wife’s career than his own. I wished Ephron dropped the Julie narrative altogether and concentrated on the life and times of “Julia and Paul.”
Adams, perhaps knowing that Streep has a showier role, tries hard to embrace the nuances of Julie and succeeds. Even though her story is portrayed like a mash-up between “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and “Sex and the City,” Adams finds the necessary heart to make us care for the character.
Ultimately, the stories of both women are put under a microscope to be sliced and diced. Julia and her joie de vivre easily overpower Julie’s incessant cooking and blogging. And if we have to choose between the two, we’d rather meet the person behind the recipes than the woman who wants to recreate them.
Ephron did not mix all the right ingredients necessary to make a film like “Julie and Julia” delicious. The movie lacks energy and rhythm for us to care for both stories. And it’s a shame since Ephron is not a stranger to making films with parallel themes such as “When Harry Met Sally.”
The writer-director succeeded in bringing out a splendid performance from Streep but that’s not a hard thing to do. The actress shines in all of her scenes especially the ones with Jane Lynch who plays Child’s sister, Dorothy McWilliams.
Streep alone is enough to recommend this movie even though there’s a course missing. And let’s face it; the actress, who has mastered the art of acting, is the key ingredient to brightening up our dog days of summer.
And for that, “Julie and Julia” gets 3 Bon Appétit! Kisses
Year of Production: 2009
Country: United States