Julie & Julia (2009)
Reviewed on 2009 September 1
Charming is overused, but I think that’s the best adjective for this Nora Ephron story of both Julia Child, and the woman motivated by her to make every recipe in her breakthrough book in a year’s time.
Julia and Paul Child (Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci) are stationed in Paris thanks to Paul’s job, and Julia is at a loss as to what to do with her new life in France. With the way she throws herself into life, we get the idea she could have succeeded at anything she desired, but fortunately for us she chose food. We see it’s a natural fit from the beginning, when she tastes fish cooked French style, with real butter, and gets a rapturous look on her face seldom seen outside Renaissance paintings of the Nativity. She’s so enamored with the amazing cuisine of France that she wants to learn how cook it, but soon that’s not enough: she wants to make it available to non-French-speakers; as she puts it, “or people without servants”. In the back-and-forth storyline, a Manhattan woman, Julie Powell (Amy Adams), has her own goals. She wants to be a writer — to publish a novel — and since she’s a pretty good cook anyway, she also sets a culinary challenge for herself. She wants to go through Julia Child’s famous cook book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking and cook every recipe in one year.
I’ve seen a lot of movies that have give me the impulse to buy a book, get a new CD or whatever, but this thing is dangerous. It’s the only one that made me want to eat a stick of butter. I compromised with a nice dessert of real brie and strawberries. (I did break down and order Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I’m shooting for one recipe a week. Someday I am going to debone that freaking duck too.) I really enjoyed this, and had no idea Julia was such a warm, funny person. She demystified French food for us Yankees, and had a good time doing it. I thought the Julie storyline was a bit weak, but I don’t think that’s Amy Adams’s fault. It’s hard to compete with Meryl Streep (or an icon like Julia) on any level, and even harder to have a meltdown over something like an aspic and seem rational. It’s still DVD-worthy on a cold winter day, with a pot au feu cooking away on the stove while you watch.
Three chocolate morsels.