Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mini Review: Julie & Julia

Have you seen Julie & Julia yet? While not a perfect movie, it certainly is entertaining, especially if you:

a) love Julia Child
b) write a food blog
c) have an overwhelming love of food and cooking

You see, the movie isn't as much about food as it is about cooking. Sure, there's some great relationship stuff in there too, as anyone who's read Julia Child's My Life in France (one of the two books on which the movie is based) would know. Julia and her husband Paul were very much in love and a match made in heaven. His support helped her through the strenuous years of trying to get her now famous cookbook written and published, and certainly plays a major role in the film. But it's the cooking--how she learned to do it, how she mastered it, and how it got her through, that's really the focus of the film. The same goes for Julie Powell, the food blogger turned author who was lifted out of a slump by her passion for cooking. Although she finds inspiration by channeling Julia Child, it's the constant cooking after a terrible workday and the routine of it that ultimately saves her. The movie is also based on her book Julie and Julia, for which the movie is named.

As I mentioned, the film has its faults, among them the fact that it sort feels unfinished and ends a bit abruptly. But there's a great deal of comedy, gorgeous food, and a story we can all relate to on some level. I happen to relate on far too many levels, but if like me, you remember watching Julia cook on any one of her shows, then you're halfway to liking to movie. There's no denying that Meryl Streep once again steals this film, and that's just something we'll all have to live with. Her feat is not just mastering that voice without playing a caricature of Julia, but getting her mannerisms down pat (lightly touching everyone on the arm, moving in close to make a joke, etc...). Not that she's the only stand-out performance, since her Devil Wears Prada co-star Stanley Tucci is perfectly cast as Julia's husband Paul. He's exactly the funny, sarcastic, smart and doting man that Julia always said he was.

As was expected, I was less entertained by the Julie Powell part of the film than the Julia Child portions--but then again, I've been waiting for a Julia biopic for some time now. I do very much appreciate that they are two true stories, and it's also the first time blogging, especially in it's nascent stages of life (ah, the early 2000's!), have been depicted on the big screen, at least that I can recall. So watching Julie receive her first blog comment and realizing that someone out there is actually reading her thoughts was a cool thing to see. See other people come home and take solace in cooking dinner was a sight rarely seen on tv. Harried mothers, take-out and food scenes altogether missing from movies and television are much more common these days. The short answer is that the movie isn't an amazing piece of cinema, but you will undoubtedly be entertained. If you like food (and since you're reading this blog I'm guessing you do), if you like Julia Child, and if you like underdogs and love stories, you'll like this movie. Simple as that.


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