Director: Nora Ephron
Cast: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, Linda Emond
RunTime: 2 hrs 3 mins
Released By: Columbia TriStar
Rating: PG (Some Sexual References)
Official Website: http://www.feedyourinspiration.com/
Opening Day: 15 October 2009
Streep is Julia Child and Amy Adams is Julie Powell in writer-director
Nora Ephron's adaptation of two bestselling memoirs: Powell's
"Julie & Julia" and "My Life in France," by Julia Child
with Alex Prud’homme.
Based on two true stories, "Julie & Julia" intertwines
the lives of two women who, though separated by time and space,
are both at loose ends...until they discover that with the
right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything
"Julie and Julia" is a chick flick quite unlike
the usual rom-coms. Indeed, it isn’t at all a rom-com,
though there is a very generous dose of comedy. It possesses
instead the whimsical nature of the best rom-coms, telling
the story of two parallel lives whose fates are intertwined
by their passion for food and cooking.
Meryl Streep is the famed food writer and TV chef Julia Child,
best known for her cookbook "Mastering the Art of French
Cooking". The impact of said book cannot be understated,
since this was the quintessential book of the 1960s that all
but introduced America to the fine art of classic French cooking.
Not that you will learn much about the cultural impact of
Julia Child’s book from writer/director Nora Ephron’s
breezy movie- no, Ephron is more interested in telling the
culinary adventures of the California-girl Julia (with the
same sunshine personality) who accompanied her U.S. diplomat
of a husband to France in the 1950s and fell in love with
the country’s food. In fact, Julia loved the food so
much she went to the male-dominated Le Cordon Bleu to pick
up the in and outs of French cooking.
Back in 2002, Amy Adams is the discontented almost-30 young
woman Julie Powell. Stuck in an unfulfilling office job and
hating her life for having nothing to show for (unlike her
richer and more successful friends), Julie decides one day
to start a food blog and give herself a year to cook all 524
recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook. Also based on a true
story, that blog eventually led to Julie Powell’s memoir
"Julie and Julia" and Ephron’s hereto-titled
Separated by a gulf of almost 50 years, Julie and Julia never
meet- except through the black-and-white cooking shows Julie
watches with her husband in their Queens apartment at night.
By telling both their stories at the same time, Ephron emphasizes
the parallels of their lives- most evidently, how both Julie
and Julia find a sense of purpose through cooking; one the
bored housewife of a diplomat and the other the equally restless
There are also other similarities- both have loving, supportive
husbands who say nothing about their obsession with the kitchen,
except the occasional complaint how all that delicious food
they have been feasting on is giving them a fuller figure.
Both Julie and Julia are also eventually rewarded for their
perseverance with publishing success- Julie’s "Julie
and Julia" and Julia’s "Mastering the Art
of French Cooking".
But despite the likeness of both stories, Julie’s story
is sadly no match for Julia’s. Whereas Julie’s
challenge was only to prove to herself what she could accomplish
if she set her mind to it, Julia’s was a tale of boldness
and gutsiness measured not just by her recipes but also her
courage against the social mores of her time and her status.
The discrepancy of "Julie and Julia" lies not just
in the nature of their accomplishment, but also the richness
of their tales. Almost recognising the strength of their individual
stories, Ephron places greater emphasis on setting up the
vivid and vibrant scene of postwar Paris than the dull, almost
soulless portrayal of Queens, New York.
And this disparity is also evident in the strength of the
actresses. Amy Adams is no doubt a talented performer but
she is no match for the exuberant Meryl Streep. Streep slips
ever so effortlessly into the role of Julia, nailing to perfection
Julia’s distinctive vocal lilt, loping gait, curious
gestures and above all, her undimmed enthusiasm for life and
food. It is a wondrous impersonation and once again proves
why Streep is the actress of our generation.
If the tone of "Julie and Julia" isn’t always
consistent, it’s more a fault of the material than of
Ephron. To the best of her efforts, Ephron has whipped up
a light and entertaining treat filled with sharp writing and
great performances, in particular Meryl Streep and Stanley
Tucci (who plays Julia’s diplomat husband). It’s
not a perfect meal, but "Julie and Julia" is still
a delicious and delightful treat you’ll want to savour
every minute of.
(Delicious and delightful- this is food for the soul
and the spirit. Bon appétit!)
Review by Gabriel Chong