Monday, January 27, 2014

Julie & Julia (2009) [PG-13] ****

It's 1949, and Paul Child (Stanley Tucci), a U.S. State Dept. diplomat, has just been posted to Paris. He brings with him his wife Julia (Meryl Streep), who, bored with making hats and playing bridge, attends Le Cordon Bleu, a professional cooking school, and decides to write a cookbook about French cooking for servant-less American wives. The result is the classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, co-written with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle.

The scene shifts to New York in 2002, where we find Julie Powell (Amy Adams) and her husband Eric (Chris Messina) living in an apartment in Queens above a pizzeria. Julie is a mid-level bureaucrat whose job is to try to help survivors deal with the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack. To relieve her disenchantment and boredom, Julie's husband suggests she start blogging, and she decides to cook all 524 of Julia Child's recipes in a single year. Julie later published her blog as the book Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, which writer/director Nora Ephron turned into a screenplay.

The action shifts back and forth between Paris in the late '40s and early '50s, and New York in 2002-03. Streep is perfect as the strong-willed and conventional Julia Child, and Amy Adams is believable, although not particularly endearing, as the self-absorbed, emotional Julie Powell. Tucci and Messina are excellent in their supporting roles. The film is billed as a heartwarming comedy-drama, although neither the comedy nor the drama is particularly compelling. Nora Ephron has done better work as a writer, for example: When Harry Met Sally..., Sleepless in Seattle, and You've Got Mail. The success of the film really is due to Meryl Streep's impressive and accurate portrayal of Julia Child. Sadly, Julia Child (who passed away in 2004 at age 91) and Julie Powell never did meet, although Child was apparently aware of the blogger and considered her cooking/writing project to be neither serious nor professional, and perhaps even disrespectful. This film will be best appreciated by fans of Meryl Streep, foodies, and lovers of food-focused films like Big Night, Chocolat, Eat Drink Man Woman, Mostly Martha, No Reservations and Tortilla Soup

Labels: biography, comedy, drama, food, romance    
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 66/100    
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=67, viewers=70)    
Wikipedia - Julia Child

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