Julie and Julia (2009)

Posted: August 18, 2009 in Movies

Julie and Julia


A Movie Review


Jonathan Moya

3.5 Out of 5 Stars or B+ 

The Plot: (from IMDB.com)

Julia Child (Meryl Streep) and Julie Powell (Amy Adams) are featured in writer-director Nora Ephron’s adaptation of two bestselling memoirs: Powell’s Julie & Julia and My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme. Based on two true stories, Julie & Julia intertwines the lives of two women who, though separated by time and space, are both at loose ends…until they discover that with the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible.

The Review:

It is a shame that Julie Powell got a movie of her life made before Julia Child.    Powell’s blog, the Julie/Julia project, about the adventures and misadventures of her trying to cook all 524 recipes in Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” within a year is the inspiration for Julie and Julia.  (Poor Child, she doesn’t even get top billing.)   Even though the two never met in life, Child knew of Powell’s blog but expressed bored disinterest for it.  She thought it was gimmicky and opportunistic, but then Child never wrote endorsements for someone else’s cookbooks and rebutted all attempts by others to make money off the Julia Child label.  She unsuccessfully fought Santa Barbara, California rose lovers who wanted to name a bloom in her honor.  The Julia Child Rose blossoms to a simmering butter-gold.  Julie and Julia only cover twelve years of Child’s life (1948-1961), from her first taste of le cuisine France to the publication of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” 

In Julie and Julia, Powell (played by the incandescent Amy Adams) is crestfallen by her muse’s disinterest.    But then, the simplest cooking faux pas has her whining on the floor, coated in a fine layer of flour and rolled in the offal of her latest botched assignment.   Adams plays Powell with her usual gentle and earnest method style. Her candy-coated charm tries to frost over Powell’s self-indulgence and mal content.  She percolates through all the romantic comedy layers- the breakups and make-ups- towards empowerment, the ideal marriage and the joie de vivre that Nora Ephron (who writes and directs here) sees as Julia Child’s natural essence and lesson to the world. 

Meryl Streep does the real cooking in Julie and Julia.   She effortlessly masters Child’s heart and soul.  Her Julia is the perfect soufflé- light and airy with just the right amount of sugar and lift- an embodiment that goes beyond the command of the Child accent and physical style, beyond homage, to revealing real character.    Streep handles the painful echoes of Child’s ironically childless life with poignancy that avoids the maudlin with one exception.   The last scene has her and her mate Paul (Stanley Tucci) beaming at and holding that beautiful little book of theirs with a little too much motherly and paternal affection.  

Stanley Tucci as Paul gives a delightful performance.    Paul and Julia, Meryl and Tucci find perfect support in each other.   Their onscreen marriage all comes together with perfect technique and the right ingredients- a rare and great example of wedded bliss. 

Nora Ephron’s direction and screenplay bring the parallel stories into a respectful balance that never tries to strain the gentle points that float between them.   The two childless couples find their own perfect space.   Julia and Paul live the classic perfect romance.  Julie and Eric (Chris Messina applying enough patience, charm and husbandly concern to make it gel) live their modern marriage within the conventions of romantic comedy, suffering a little bit of the Blands as a result.  The two stories never create a perfect whole, just a satisfying appetizer and entrée. Sometimes that is as good as life gets.    Julie and Julia gets a B+. 

The Credits:   (From AllMovie.com)

Nora Ephron  – Director / Screenwriter / Producer Laurence Mark  – Producer Amy Robinson  – Producer Eric Steel  – Producer Julia Child  – Book Author Julie Powell  – Book Author Alex Prud’homme  – Book Author Stephen Goldblatt  – Cinematographer Alexandre Desplat  – Composer (Music Score) Richard Marks  – Editor Mark Ricker  – Production Designer Benjamin John Barraud  – Art Director Dianne Dreyer  – Co-producer J.J. Sacha  – Associate Producer Donald J. Lee, Jr.  – Executive Producer / Unit Production Manager Scott Rudin  – Executive Producer Dana Stevens  – Executive Producer Susan Bode-Tyson  – Set Decorator Ann Roth  – Costume Designer Kathleen Driscoll-Mohler  – Casting Francine Maisler  – Casting Peter Bucossi  – Stunts Coordinator Erica Kay  – Production Supervisor

With   Meryl Streep  – Julia Child Amy Adams  – Julie Powell Stanley Tucci  – Paul Child Chris Messina  – Eric Powell Linda Emond  – Simone Beck Helen Carey  – Louise Bertholle Mary Lynn Rajskub  – Sarah Jane Lynch  – Dorothy McWilliams Joan Juliet Buck  – Madame Brassart Crystsal Noelle  – Ernestine George Bartenieff  – Chef Max Bugnard Vanessa Ferlito  – Cassie Casey Wilson  – Regina Jillian Bach  – Annabelle Andrew Garman  – John O’Brien Michael Brian Dunn  – Ivan Cousins Remak Ramsay  – John McWilliams Diane Kagan  – Phila McWilliams Pamela Holden Stewart  – Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu Jeff Brooks  – Minister Frances Sternhagen  – Irma Rombauer Brooks Ashmanskas  – Mr. Misher Eric Sheffer Stevens  – Tim Brian Avers  – Garth Kacie Sheik  – Annette Megan Byrne  – Woman at the Party Deborah Rush  – Avis De Voto Helen Coxe  – Dorothy De Santillana Amanda Hesser  – Herself Maryann Urbano  – Dinner Guest Simon Jutras  – Dinner Guest Felicity Jones  – Dinner Guest Meg Kettell  – Simca’s Concierge Stephen Bogardus  – Scott McLeod Byron Jennings  – Houghton Mifflin Executive Kelly Au Coin  – Houghton Mifflin Executive Richard Bekins  – Houghton Mifflin Executive Luc Palun  – The Chestnut Vendor Remy Roubakha  – Oyster Man Marceline Hugot  – Madame Bernheim Erin Dilly  – Judith Jones Robert Emmet Lunney  – Bill Koshland Tom Galantich  – American Ambassador Allyn Burrows  – Waiter in Paris Café Julia Prud’homme  – Bridge Teacher Dimitri Radochevitch  – Fish Monger Emmanuel Suarez  – Baker Christelle Cornil  – Baker’s Wife Francoise Lebrun  – Baker’s Mother Teddy Bergman  – Cobb Salad Waiter Jean-Pierre Becker  – Fruit Store Owner Mark Wilkins  – Butcher Jamie Hall  – Cheese Guy Francesco David  – Butcher Dianne Dreyer  – American Housewife Mary Kay Place  – Julie’s Mother [Voice]

Copyright 2009 by Jonathan Moya

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  1. Joyce says:

    Would you say Meryl Streep is up for another Academy Award nomination? She is always entertaining and does an excellent job of each role she plays. Did this movie inspire some French cooking at your house? Happy eating – not too much though. Very good "Meryl Streep Type" review in more ways than one. Keep up the good work!

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