Monday, January 26, 2015

Julie & Julia (2009)

      Julie & Julia (2009) [D:Nora Ephron. Amy Adams, Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci]
     A mostly pleasant account of how Julie Powell cooks and blogs her way through Julia Child’s book over one year, alternating with Child’s career as cook and author.
     In 2002, Julie Powell decided to cook her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blog about it over 365 days. Her story is alternates with Julia Child’s, beginning with a posting to Paris with her foreign service husband Paul, attending a Cordon Blue cooking school, and so on. Powell later wrote a book about her year of cooking, Child wrote an autobiography, these form the basis for the screenplay.
     The food was gorgeous, I wanted to eat it. The story unfolds slowly, the cross-cutting between Powell’s and Child’s lives works. We need to know something about the history of the 1950s to fully understand Child’s story; the movie makes me want to read her book. Powell’s story has an oddly 60's feel to it, even though it’s set in early 2000s New York.
     Adams as Julie Powell is appealing, even though her marriage to Eric (Chris Messina) is a little too good to be true. Tucci as Paul Child is cool, calm, and collected, and very supportive of Julia, not surprising considering the fabulous food she cooks for him. Meryl Streep as Julia Child is irritating. She’s not acting, she’s impersonating, and the result is a caricature. At one point, Julie and Eric watch a Saturday Night Live parody of Julia’s cooking show, and there’s really not much difference between that Julia and Streep’s version.
     There’s no question that Julia was one of the people who moved food from being a more or less inoffensive fuel to a central pleasure of life. She was a larger than life figure, but the nuances of her character and her relationships with friends and family are barely hinted at here. We need a well-done biopic of this amazing woman. I liked Powell’s decision to straighten herself out by assigning herself a year-long task, but I don’t feel any desire to know more about her. I would like to enjoy some of Julia’s dishes. **½

No comments: