Monday, August 31, 2009

"Julie & Julia" - spoiler movie review

When I'd heard about "Julie & Julia", I was at first surprised that Meryl Streep would be playing Julia Child, but after I saw the trailer for the film, she actually looked terrific in the role. The movie sounded interesting, so I wanted to see it.

It's actually two movies in one, one following Julia Child during her experiences in France, based on her book "My Life in France" and another that follows a blogger named Julie Powell, who in 2002 decided that in one year's time, she would cook all the recipes in Julia Child's famous cookbook entitled "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", and her blogging efforts were consolidated in the book "Julie and Julia".

Julia's husband Paul worked for the U.S. government, so he was stationed in many different countries, one of which was France. Julia didn't really have any kind of career or even hobbies really and was just looking for something to keep herself occupied. She happened upon cooking because she loved food, but she encountered a very snooty French woman in the cooking school who pretty much told her she'd never amount to any kind of cook simply because she was an American. Julia immersed herself in her cooking class, and while she had some difficulties to start with, she was determined to be good at it, and good she was. She then ended up helping to re-write a cookbook that was supposed to be designed to teach American women how to cook French food, which turned into the now-famous book.

Meanwhile, Julie has some issues of her own, and she decides to make a goal for herself. She's already a decent cook, but she decides that she's going to give herself a year in which to cook all the recipes in the French cookbook, and she's going to blog her experiences along the way. At first, she doesn't think anyone's reading, but her blog soon proves to be very popular, as she posts about the trials and tribulations of learning all the different techniques necessary to make all the recipes.


I really enjoyed this movie, and I liked following the dual tales. Of course, I knew who Julia Child was, but other than that she was a very famous cook and that there was that hilarious sketch on Saturday Night Live (I *loved* that they included that in the film) about her, I had no idea that she sort of happened her way into cooking. I liked seeing the development of the book and most particularly, I loved seeing the relationship between Julia and her husband Paul. I also liked following along with quirky Julie. I've heard that her depiction of herself in the book isn't particularly sympathetic, and that she's a bit more sympathetic in the film because of how Amy Adams portrays her, but I have to say, I did really like her. No, she wasn't perfect, and yes, she had her own flaws and melt-down moments. But that just makes her human. And I'm ok with seeing flawed, human people on screen.

It was also fun seeing her doing all that cooking, but I am really glad we had lunch right before the movie. Seeing that movie while even remotely hungry would have been torture. Speaking of torture, yeah, I'm a horrible person, but I found the lobster scene to be very amusing.


I thought the acting all around was stellar, led off by Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci as Paul and Amy Adams. I had seen the last film that Meryl Streep and Amy Adams were in together ("Doubt"), but this was obviously a much different story, and they don't even have any scenes together because of the structure of the film. The supporting players were good as well, including Julie's husband, Julia's cookbook co-authors and the other people they encounter. I liked seeing Mary Lynn Rajskub as one of Julie's friends, though she had a pretty small part with not much to do.

I absolutely *loved* that Julie's husband used the quote from Douglas Adams about the sound deadlines make as they fly by, and the fact that it was actually attributed to him. Who references Douglas Adams in movies? And how many people had no idea who he was when they heard that line?


I enjoyed the film enough that I'm actually interested in reading both books upon which the movie was based.

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