by Diana Bulls
A movie partially based on the life of Julia Child might not be what every film aficionado waits for, but I was definitely excited when I saw the first trailer. I am a great fan of Julia Child. When I was a young bride, I loved the old 1970s PBS program The French Chef and I regularly watched her Cooking with Master Chefs series in the 1990s. It wasn’t so much that I aspired to be a great cook, it was that I just loved watching Julia work with and talk about food. She made it seem so easy. I am also a fan of Meryl Streep and truly believe she can play any part well. However, I did have some doubts about 5’6” Meryl playing 6’2” Julia!
As for the movie’s other subject, I’m not a blogger. I understand blogging and usually understand why people blog, it is just that I don’t personally have the time or inclination to read or write blogs. So I was curious as to how Julie the blogger’s life was going to mesh with Julia the cook’s life and whether it would be fact or fiction or even fun.
About to turn 30, Julie is in a decent marriage but stuck in a dead-end government secretarial job and looking for something to give meaning to her life. Woven throughout her story is the story of 36-year-old Julia’s life in France and her search for “…something to dooooo.” Julia, as we all know, enrolls at Le Cordon Bleu and devotes her life to introducing French cuisine and cooking techniques to the American housewife by writing a cookbook. Julie decides to blog about cooking her way through that cookbook,Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and eventually writing a book about it.
Writer/Director Nora Ephron took the best ingredients from two books (especially where Julie Powell’s memoir is concerned) and stirred them up into a classic Hollywood recipe where dreams really do come true. The intertwined stories take place nearly six decades apart and focus on the main characters’ somewhat parallel lives. The happy ending comes with two publishing contracts.
Streep’s Julia is classic; right down to the body posture, hand and facial gestures, and lilting voice. She towers over the other actors, partially due to camera technique and partially due to skill. Amy Adams plays a cleaned up version of Julie Powell. She’s sweet, a bit ditsy and, sometimes, you want to kick her but, on the whole, she is likable. Stanley Tucci plays the part of Julia’s devoted Paul perfectly, with sophistication and style. You also have to love Chris Messina in the part of Eric, Julie’s long-suffering husband
This is a great, feel-good movie that will leave you with a smile. The only thing that could have made it better would have been more shots of Streep’s Julia and “surround smell.” If you haven’t read My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prod’homme, do so and then watch the movie again — you’ll enjoy it even more. I wish I could say the same for Powell’s book, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, but that’s another review.